Mon, Jun 09, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Math genius, undeterred by spinal muscular atrophy, receives doctorate

By Hung Ting-hung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tung Ting-chi, right, is presented with his diploma for a doctorate in computer science and information engineering in Greater Kaohsiung on Saturday.

Photo: Hung Ting-hung, Taipei Times

Tung Ting-chi (董庭吉) has refused to give in to the ravages of spinal muscular atrophy. Instead, Tung has tried to live his life to the fullest, taking national examinations and receiving high scores.

On Saturday, Tung received a doctorate in computer science and information engineering at National Sun Yat-sen University in Greater Kaohsiung.

British physicist Stephen Hawking and Peng Shih-chi (彭士齊), who received a degree from National Tsinghua University four years ago, have the same condition as Tung.

Tung’s professor, Chang Yun-nan (張雲南), said that Tung had earned his degree 100 percent.

“I met Tung when he entered college as a freshman, and over the past 11 years he has proven his ability to develop advanced information communication designs,” Chang said.

Tung’s arms and legs have atrophied to the extent that he is not able to care for himself, and relies on family members to get in and out of bed, and use the shower and toilet.

Classmates help Tung at school.

Tung’s father said the family is listed as a low-income household because caring for Tung and his other two children, made him unable to hold down a job for more than two decades.

However, since Tung started applying for scholarships in his high-school years, the pressure had greatly diminished.

Due to a lack of resources in special education at elementary and junior-high school, the schools instead arranged for Tung to receive home schooling from Lin Hui-chu (林慧珠), at teacher from the Kaohsiung School for Students with Disabilities.

Lin was the first to recognize Tung’s extraordinary aptitude for math and physics.

Lin applied for more educational resources for Tung to specialize in these subjects, as well as arranging for Tung to take the senior-high school examination when he was just a second-year junior-high student.

Lin said Tung would always be a “little giant” in her heart, never giving up, despite the difficulties he faced.

He passed the National Sun Yat-sen University entrance exam with the highest score the year he took it and continued at the university to read for his master’s.

In 2008, Lin also gained the highest score that year in his entrance exam to the university’s doctorate program.

In 2012, Tung sat the national examinations and placed fifth in the elementary-level national examinations overall score and 10th in the junior level examinations.

Meanwhile, Tung’s proud father said that with Tung’s brother, Tung Ting-jung (董庭榮), passing exams to study Chinese medicine this year and his sister, Tung Yu-ju (董玉如), receiving her credentials to be a teacher, the family’s finances may finally be taking a turn for the better.

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