Teen math whiz to graduate from UTA

Hundreds of North Texas college students are getting ready to graduate, including a 15-year-old math whiz from Arlington.

Marcie Tiraphatna has already gotten her high school diploma, and she's now just days away from getting a B.S. in Mathematics from UTA.

She's President of the Association of Women in Mathematics and is heading to UNT in the fall for her master's or maybe doctorate degree.

"It's always come naturally to me," she said.

Tiraphatna was profiled in a local newspaper five years ago, when she was 10.

When most fifth graders were learning the basics, Tiraphatna was the youngest student to attend Texas A&M Texarkana. She knew back then she wanted to be a math professor.

She remembers the day she realized that she was different.

"It was in like fifth grade, and I remember it was indoor recess, ‘cause it was raining," said Tiraphatna. "I just decided to do like a long multiplication problem, just for fun."

But there was a time when her mother was worried that Tiraphatna might be intellectually be behind her peers.

"We took her to the doctor to see what's going on," said Tiraphatna's mother, Chenda. "She's not talking yet, at 2."

Soon after, Tiraphatna was reading chapter books at age 3.

Most of her academic career, she's wanted to keep her intellectual gifts secret and be treated like any other student.

Called a child prodigy and kid genius by friends, Tiraphatna says she's OK with that, although it's annoying when people ask her to do their homework.

Deep down, she says she's just another teen.

"Every so often, I kind of want to go back to public school...to get the teenager experience, be like everyone else," she said.

But not often.

"Sometimes it's really difficult, especially when it builds up on itself,  but…I get by," said Tiraphatna.


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