‘Gentle Genius’ - 13-year-old takes his place at UCC after acing CSEC
When the new school year gets into full swing at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC), students will find a 13-year-old among them.
Malik Wynter, who sat and passed six subjects in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations (CSEC) this year, while he was just 12 years old, was offered a scholarship to UCC and is looking forward to studying business and information systems.
"I want to go into information security in the future and so I am interested in studying and working with computers, so any courses which involve computer science, I am interested," said Malik, who studied at the Deokoro Magnet Schools for the Gifted and Talented in Kingston.
The teenager grew up in Portmore, St Catherine, with his mother, father and sister, but spent the first three years of his life in the United States with his grandmother.
Malik is usually reserved and spends most of his time reading fantasy books and learning about computers. He has taught himself to speak Japanese and Russian.
He told The Sunday Gleaner that he was bullied at the two primary schools he initially attended for being "weird", and is hoping that in university his experience will be different.
"I will be among the youngest in the entire school. It's a little scary, but my philosophy is that I want to be finished with school as quickly as possible. I have done the work for high school already so university is naturally the next step," said Malik.
Dubbed 'gentle genius' by his teachers at the Deokoro Magnet School for the Gifted, Malik is convinced that he is not missing out on any aspect of his childhood and he will not regret, not going to high school.
"Most people I have met my age aren't quite interesting to me. I usually want to talk about trigonometry, philosophy, political science, and they usually want to talk about football and shoes. I don't want to come off as arrogant but those topics are boring," said Malik.
Having attended two schools, where teachers thought he was a troubled child who wouldn't pay attention in classes, even though his schoolwork was always done, Malik said he was bored in the 'regular' school setting.
His mother, Gillianne Costley, is a credit supervisor, and father, Kevin Wynter, a driver, said they noticed early how Malik was always very inquisitive, how he played differently and was always trying to find out why things were the way they were.
They are looking towards to his university life with mixed emotions.
"I am scared. I'm a bit apprehensive, because my baby is getting so big, but I know that's what he wants, and it wouldn't be fair of us to hold him back because it's going to frustrate him, being the type of person he is," said Costley.
She is encouraging other parents to seek to understand their children, and don't limit them.
"I know a lot of people probably think I am free with my children, because I will allow them freedom to voice their opinions and I won't jump at them but I think children need that freedom.
"I just want him to get the best out of life. The sky is the limit and you have lots of gifted kids out there who are held back because of age. Don't let age be the hurdle here. Youth like them, you have to listen to them and know them not rude. Just picture them as an adult talking to you," said the proud father.