Age:18, Cambridge, MA
It’s probably an understatement to describe David Dalrymple as extraordinary.
He earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and math at age 13 and a Master of Science degree from MIT with a 5.0 GPA at 16. He plans to graduate from the school next year with a Ph.D. He was inducted in Phi Beta Kappa and other honor societies as an undergraduate.
He has operated two sole proprietorships, one selling photography and fractal art, and one selling custom software engineering. While volunteering for a summer at a technology company, he helped invent a portable, camera-like device that allows the blind to “read” text like street signs and menus by having a computer system read the text aloud into headphones.
Yet although his proud mother Athena Dalrymple knows all he’s accomplished, the first thing she wants to tell you about is her son’s heart. “David is like Nestlé chocolate — sweet. He has shown compassion and caring from perhaps the earliest age I have ever witnessed or even heard of happening. He has had a lifelong history of using his varied talents for the good of society.”
David’s community service includes being the top fundraiser in his state for the Multiple Sclerosis Read-a-thon all three years he took part, and visiting a woman with MS. After September 11th, he designed, printed, and sold sympathy cards for the families of the victims with the profits going to the September 11th Fund. He read to residents at a local retirement home and played instruments to entertain the residents weekly for seven years. Indeed, his list of kindnesses is long.
David also has a positive attitude, something he says is the key to overcoming physical and social obstacles. “When I started college, I was under four-foot four and fifty-two pounds, and was about the same size when I first started working as an intern at a technology company at age nine, but I simply saw my age and size as variations that had little to do with the job, and other people quickly came to see the same.
“My short-term goal,” David says, “is to finish my doctoral thesis about a new model of computation to challenge the von Neumann model (predominant since 1945) now that we have reached the practical limits of that way of doing things. I am also considering attending a combined MBA/JD program to give me the necessary knowledge to start up and manage a technology corporation. Since I was two, I have always wanted to invent things that can help people.”
He believes strongly that everyone should have the chance at a good education. “You know, with education comes economic opportunity, and with economic opportunity comes infrastructure and clean water, and all those kinds of things, and I think that it’s a real shame the way the world doesn’t value public education. Teachers should not be underpaid. That should be a noble thing that everyone should aspire to be — an educator. And there should be more access to education all around the world. If that were to happen, the world would be a better place.”