David Banh, of Annandale, is the first person ever to complete UVAs traditional four-year bachelor’s program in a single year.
Banh, who turns 19 later this month, graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria in 2005. A year and a summer later, he was a UVa alumnus.
So he went for it – taking 11 classes in the spring of 2006 to complete his bachelor’s in mathematics.
Now he’s gone on to the graduate program at UVA, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics.
Banh said he was already halfway to his degree before stepping foot on Grounds. He had a whopping 72 credits from advanced placement exams in high school.
“I basically took the entire gamut of AP credits,” he said. “I just took everything I could.”
UVA, however, allows only a maximum of 60 such credits to be used toward the 120 it takes to obtain a bachelor’s degree. So Banh started the clock with 60 when he arrived in Charlottesville.
Banh, then, could have breezed through a normal schedule of classes, and he would have still finished in two years. But he said he thought a year and a half would be a better timetable. He signed up for 23 credit hours his first semester at UVa, but found the workload wasn’t as bad as he thought it might be.
“I found myself sitting around a lot with free time,” he said.
Banh’s parents, first-generation Vietnamese immigrants, did not have enough money to pay for both his education and that of his siblings. He could have taken out loans for a second year, or taken on a part-time job while completing his studies. But he said it seemed to make more sense to just finish the degree in one year.
“Some of the other grad students still consider him a big kid, because he’s so young,” she said. “But his abilities are great. It’s obvious that he’s exceptionally gifted.”
As for what’s next for Banh, he is continuing his studies in mathematics, but is also considering going to law school instead.
Ramirez doubts he’ll see anyone else accomplish what Banh did as an undergraduate.
“I’ve been here 39 years, so maybe it will happen again in another 39 years.”
All I’ve got to say is–72 AP CREDITS?! Even assuming that UVA counts every class/exam as 3 credit hours, that means the dude took 24 AP exams in high school good enough scores on at least 20 of them to transfer over. Gaah.