HARROGATE, Tenn. (WVLT) A 15-year-old Harrogate teenager just walked across the stage to earn her Master's degree in Intelligence Analysis, as well as the world record for being the youngest person to do so.
Eugenie de Silva has plans to become the Secretary of Defense, a goal she set when she was only seven years old.
She earned an award from Johns Hopkins University for verbal and mathematics testing when she was seven, and was told she could start taking college classes. She declined, because her father wanted her to earn her high school diploma before jumping into college.
By the time she turned 15, she was wrapping up her Master's degree in Intelligence Analysis, has a handful of books published, taught herself how to play piano, and now holds the title of being the youngest person in the world to earn a Master's degree in Intelligence Analysis.
"I just really have a passion for Intelligence Analysis and law enforcement," de Silva said.
de Silva has studied how policies are made in Washington, D.C., how cyber threats are made, and even created a top-secret way for law enforcement to detect when a suspect is lying to them.
But Eugenie says she is still a normal 15 year-old girl. She still goes to the mall with her friends, she played soccer for several years, and won't mention the word genius if you ask her how smart she is.
"Just because someone excels in academics, it doesn't mean you can't be social and have friends. That's something really you need to be intelligent," de Silva said.
de Silva's father, who is a physics and chemistry professor at Walter's State College, said he never pushed Eugenie to go overboard with academics, but always supported her in whatever she pursued.
He said he's very proud his daughter just earned a world record.
"This is a great achievement. We should be proud as a country that some from the U.S. is on top and set the world record," de Silva said.
As for future plans, de Silva is currently about to begin classes toward earning her PhD to make the next steps toward Secretary of Defense. She said if she can become the youngest Secretary of Defense, that would be pretty cool.
"In everything I do, I always think about my end goal, and I plan my life accordingly. So yeah, I would love that if I could be the youngest Secretary of Defense, but just being the Secretary of Defense at any age would be wonderful," de Silva said.