Child prodigy finishes first week of university

12-year-old student Diki Suryaatmadja. Photo by Ramona Leitao

It’s been nearly two weeks since Cendikiawan (Diki) Suryaatmadja arrived at the University of Waterloo and Imprint wanted to see how he has adjusted to life on campus and the KW area.

Suryaatmadja is a 12-year-old student from Indonesia enrolled in the Honours Physics program with an entrance scholarship.

“[He’s] the youngest that we’ve admitted that we’re aware of,” said André Jardin, the associate registrar of admissions at UW. Jardin oversees the admissions of students at the undergraduate level.

Being significantly younger than the average student at a university, UW decided to directly offer Suryaatmadja some support services.

“As a standard 17-year-old coming in, we would tell you about the services, but it’s up to you to avail yourself of those services,” said Jardin. “For Diki, because of his age, there were certain things that we proactively connected, [like] a success coach, making sure that he met his advisor right away.  There are just some initial touch points that we ensured happened.”

Suryaatmadja is currently taking eight courses at UW which,according to him, is quite normal.

“Some are mathematics, some are chemistry, and economics,” said Suryaatmadja.

Like many of the other new students at UW, Suryaatmadja also partook in Orientation Week, which occurred Sept. 5- 10.

“It was quite fun, and I [got] to meet many friends and learn a lot about the university,” said Suryaatmadja.

Recently, Suryaatmadja has been gaining a lot of recognition for being one of the youngest students to attend a post-secondary school, from news outlets like CBC, CTV, and around the world, including Germany, and his home country, Indonesia. So throughout Orientation Week, Suryaatmadja gained some recognition from students on campus.

“[It] doesn’t bother me at all,” said Suryaatmadja.

Before arriving at UW, Suryaatmadja had a few assumptions about the place he would spend the next few years attending and learning.

“At first I thought that [UW] was going to be more strange …  but [actually] they’re helping each other, and are very kind, and they would talk to you when you need help,” said Suryaatmadja. “I’m looking forward to getting my education and academic experience. I’m looking forward to making lots of friends and looking forward to knowing more things about Canada.”

Suryaatmadja has also started to get accustomed to the KW region and has  visited many places, including Waterloo Park.

As for places outside of KW, the 12-year-old hopes to especially visit one particular place.

“I would like to visit LEGOLAND in Toronto.”

While Suryaatmadja says that he finds UW a comfortable place, he does offer some advice to share that he too has been following during his time here.

“You cannot rely on others; you must rely on yourself. You must work hard, and you must not give up and be as resilient as possible.”