Indonesian boy who learned English from films starts university in Canada at 12


A 12-year-old Indonesian boy will start university classes in Canada today with peers almost twice his age – and apparently he’s not alone.

Cendikiawan (Diki) Suryaatmadja will study physics and take additional classes in math, chemistry and economics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, school officials said.

The boy genius reportedly applied after fast-tracking through school in his home country, learning English by watching movies.

Diki is the youngest student ever to enroll at Waterloo, one of Canada’s top schools, admissions staff said.


He is also among a growing number of smart youngsters eager to begin higher education.

South of the border, Cornell University in New York welcomed 12-year-old freshman Jeremy Shuler this week.

And a cursory look at enrollment statistics over the past century shows the bar falling lower and lower.

American Michael Kearney, born in 1984, remains the youngest ever to have graduated with a college degree at age eight. He went on to teach college while still a teenager.

Waterloo admissions staff told Canadian media that age did not factor into their decision to admit Diki, who they said has one of the best academic records of anyone accepted at the school this year.

“He had phenomenal grades,” Andre Jardin, associate registrar of admissions, told broadcaster CTV. “He’s fully prepared academically. What we have to address is the fact that he is a 12-year-old boy.”

Diki, meanwhile, told public broadcaster CBC that he was “very excited to meet the new students and make new friends.”

He said he would like to apply what he learns in the field of renewable energy. 

While in Canada, he will live with his father in an apartment near campus, and says he is looking forward to learning how to ice skate.

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