May 8, 2012
DALLAS (SMU) – What happens to a bright child who skips kindergarten, second and fourth grade?
If you’re Sawyer Stone, you start school at SMU before you are old enough to drive, and you get your diploma at the tender age of 18.
Sawyer will be graduating Saturday, May 12, with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. This young man from Hot Springs, Ark., has been on the fast track all his life, and says he’s long been used to spending his time with people who are older than him.
When he finished high school at 15, he talked with his family about taking a year off, but that conversation never built much momentum. So Sawyer started shopping for a college.
“Nobody seemed to have a problem with my age, so we just got on with it and I ended up here,” Sawyer explains. “I liked Dallas a lot, and SMU had a great engineering school.”
He’d had a bit of a growth spurt as a junior and senior in high school, so Sawyer didn’t look that much younger than the rest of the SMU first-years. “It was normal, to me,” he said. And he doesn’t think he was any more challenged by his new surroundings than the other new students learning to juggle residence hall life, independence and a bigger academic workload.
Sawyer pledged Pi Kappa Alpha last year, thinking the timing was finally right to join a fraternity: “You don’t see 15-year-olds going through rush,” he concedes. Once he gets his undergraduate degree on Saturday, he has another decision to make: whether to pursue a master’s graduate degree in either mechanical engineering or biomedical engineering before heading for medical school.
That leaves on the table an obvious comparison between Sawyer and the title character in the old TV show “Doogie Howser, M.D.” which centered on the imaginary life of a 16-year-old doctor played by Neil Patrick Harris.
“It’s happened to me – I’ve been called ‘Doogie’ a few times,” Sawyer said, grinning. But even on his personal fast track, Sawyer will have a few years on Doogie by the time he finishes medical school.
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