A 9-Year-Old Is About to Get a University Degree. He Has #Giganticplans.


LONDON — He doesn’t play chess or any musical instruments. But he loves Fortnite and Minecraft and watches Netflix.

Soon, Laurent Simons, 9, of Belgium will become one of the youngest people in the world to graduate from a university. For this, his teachers and others have called him a genius.

He simply says, “I’m quite lazy.” That’s because he’s not into sports.

“A lot of people have stereotypes about young geniuses,” his father, Alexander, a dentist, said in a phone interview.

That’s because the world has long been fascinated by prodigies celebrated for their ability to master an instrument, graduate at a young age or achieve outstanding sports performances. Mozart composed music at age 5. Picasso was 9 years old when he made his first painting.

But in an era when social media carries a certain cachet and influencers make gobs of money posing with products, Laurent is not your typical child prodigy. He’s into Instagram, for one. And as of Friday, he had more than 13,000 followers.

Laurent, who was born in Ostende, Belgium, studies electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. He entered when he was 8 and is set to complete a three-year program in 10 months.

If all goes well and he completes his final project — about a brain-connected electrical chip — he will walk out a graduate in December.

“Then, I want to study medicine, and do a Ph.D. and make artificial organs,” he said.

Laurent grew up in Belgium with his grandparents while his parents worked in the Netherlands. He started primary school when he was 4, and went to high school at 6, according to his father. He now lives with his parents in Amsterdam.

“His grandparents always taught us he’s very special,” Alexander Simons said about his son. “We thought they were taking him too seriously.”

Other photos show him by a pool next to women wearing bikinis, with the former Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy of Belgium and flanked by his grandparents. Asked about the adult themes displayed on the account created under his son’s name, Mr. Simons said the parents managed the account.



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