After conquering algebra in kindergarten and geometry in the second grade, Stephanie Mui, 17, earned multiple college degrees — all before receiving her high school diploma.
The Virginia resident learned the basics through flash cards, and by the time she was in fifth grade, she had signed up for community college courses. After earning her associate's degree, she went to George Mason University, where she received her bachelor's of science in math, and this weekend, she was awarded a master's degree, also in mathematics. "Her incredible poise and demeanor and intellect are all balanced," Tracy Dean, assistant dean of the George Mason University College of Science, told NBC Washington. "She is extremely bright, knows what she wants, and is really fearless."
Throughout her college career, Mui was also still enrolled in high school, and she will graduate in June. Her plan is to go to New York University for her Ph.D., but not before a summer filled with movies and swimming with friends. While graduating from college three times before finishing high school may seem incredible, "it's just life to me," Mui said. "Everybody else may see it as weird. But, you know, it's just life." Catherine Garcia
When a massive global cyberattack took hold of the internet last week, a 22-year-old British cybersecurity researcher helped save the day. The man, who lives with his parents in England and wished to remain anonymous, halted the ransomware attack when he inadvertently stumbled upon its "kill switch." For his efforts, he was offered a $10,000 reward, which he plans to donate to charity. "The rest will go to buying books/resources for people looking to get into [information security] who can't afford them," he said. Jessica Hullinger
Deron Santiny wasn't in the audience cheering on his daughter when she graduated from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette last week — but only because he, too, was receiving his diploma.
Santiny, 46, first enrolled in the 1990s, but left to pursue a job in law enforcement, and later joined the military and was deployed to Iraq. In 2005, he was seriously injured when his vehicle detonated an IED, and he sustained a broken neck and brain injuries (Santiny was later awarded a Purple Heart). After going through dozens of surgeries, doctors said Santiny had a cognitive disorder that would affect how he learned, but with the encouragement of his family, he went back to school. "I wanted to finish what I started," he told KATC. "I only had four semesters left, so I figured it was worth the effort."
His daughter, Haley Fox, enrolled in 2012 after finishing her associate's degree, but took several breaks because of the demands of her job. She was ultimately inspired by her dad to buckle down and complete her coursework. "I struggled to get through school, and I'm fine and was a great student in high school," Fox said. "It was still difficult for me to get up everyday, go to class, and do all the work and get through it. For him to accomplish this is miraculous. It's just awesome." Santiny wants others in similar situations to remember that "pain is temporary" but "success is permanent," and for his daughter to know how impressed he is by her hard work: "I'm more proud of her than I am with myself." Catherine Garcia
Just three months after their wedding, a tornado destroyed Ariel and Justin Duke's Canton, Texas, home. Their personal items were lost in the debris that stretched for miles.
Ariel's wedding and engagement rings were among the missing objects, and after searching for eight days, the Dukes made a final plea online, posting a photo of Ariel's rings and asking anyone who might come across them to please return the precious jewelry. Nathan Wright, a hobby metal detector, saw the photo and joined the search. "It's pretty hard to detect somewhere like that because there's so much debris and metal spread everywhere," Wright told Good Morning America. "Their place wasn't even recognizable that a house was there. It was just broken wood and debris scattered over about 100 yards." After three hours and "doing some heavy praying," Wright found Ariel's engagement ring, and then 30 feet away, her wedding band. It was "unreal," Wright said, and Ariel "screamed and bulldozed into me with a big hug." Catherine Garcia
A D-Day veteran jumped out of an airplane and into the record books on Saturday, becoming the world's oldest skydiver.
When he completed his tandem sky dive, Verdun Hayes was 101 and 38 days old; Canadian Armand Gendreau set the previous record in June 2013 at age 101 and 3 days. Hayes, a great-grandfather, first wanted to try skydiving at age 90, but held off until he turned 100, breaking the British record for oldest skydiver. He was joined on Saturday by 10 members of his family, including 16-year-old great-grandson Stanley, 21-year-old great-granddaughter Ellie, 50-year-old grandson Roger, and 74-year-old son Bryan; they raised money for the Royal British Legion. When he landed, Hayes cheered, "Hooray!" and said he was feeling "absolutely over the moon." Catherine Garcia
The Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times in Southern California's San Jacinto Mountains offers year-round camping opportunities for young cancer patients, their siblings, and parents, and thanks to the efforts of a college football team, money that would ordinarily be used to take care of facility improvements can now go directly to giving kids the ultimate camping experience.
The student-athletes spent three days at the camp in late April, where they provided a combined 756 hours of labor — the equivalent of $20,389 worth of work. The team has a longstanding relationship with the camp, and the volunteers were kept busy doing everything from digging a trench and installing a 2,000-foot drip irrigation pipe to removing old concrete from a tennis court to chipping pine branches for landscape mulch.
"Over many years, the University of Redlands Bulldogs have created a formidable and lasting impact on our camp facilities, helping our organization raise the bar of safety and service, while at the same time allowing funds that would be needed for improvement projects to be used to sponsor every child diagnosed with cancer to attend a healing, supportive, and life-changing camp session," Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times said on its Facebook page. Catherine Garcia
For one refugee, a family heirloom proved the key to the American Dream. Ruwaida G. fled Syria with her family in 2012, eventually settling in Georgia. She wasn't able to pack many belongings, but made sure to keep her mother's wooden cookie mold. Once settled, she began baking again, and her Syrian treats won over cookie-loving local volunteers. Together, they launched Sweet, Sweet Syria — a growing cookie business that Ruwaida hopes will provide for her family for years to come. Ruwaida learned the recipe from her mother. In turn, she says, it could "help our children succeed in their life." Christina Colizza
A rescue dog is being hailed as a hero after saving his Iowa family from a fire. Capone's owner, mother-of-nine Angela Fullmer, 32, was trying to get some much-needed sleep when the miniature pinscher-Chihuahua mix started barking incessantly. When the little dog wouldn't stop, Fullmer knew something was up and quickly realized her kitchen was on fire. Within minutes, she managed to get all of her children out of the house — with Capone trailing behind. "I'm glad we found him on the highway," Fullmer said. "It was supposed to happen." Christina Colizza