Xie Yanting, a young man with cerebral palsy auditing classes at Lanzhou University, recently finished the first draft of his 94-page-long “doctoral” dissertation and is now currently waiting to defend his thesis.
Xie first studied as an undergraduate auditor at Lanzhou University starting in 2011. In 2015, he began auditing graduate level classes. Over the past 12 years, he has completed nearly 10 scientific articles, three of which were published in the SCI journals.
At 7 a.m., it was dawn in Lanzhou, a city in Northwest China. Xie will go to Lanzhou University to attend classes or do self-study whether there are classes or not.
It takes Xie 13 minutes to walk from home to classroom.
Due to cerebral palsy, his body will involuntarily tilt to the left when walking, his right heel cannot touch the ground and his arms cannot swing smoothly.
The guards at the south gate of Lanzhou University all know Xie. Knowing that it is inconvenient for him to swipe the card, they always let him in directly.
Xie couldn’t speak with clear articulation. But he always shares his latest research and papers he read to others when it comes to mathematics, especially on graph theory.
“When I study graph theory, the graphs are beautiful and they all attract me,” said Xie.
“I can’t sleep very well. When I lie in bed at night, I feel very quiet and my mind is clear, then I will start to think about many math problems,” said Xie.
Xie Yanting does scientific research, reads or writes papers almost every day since 2011 when he started to study as an auditor.
However, due to his illness, his two arms have almost lost their function and his fingers can become entangled unconsciously. He operates the mouse with his left hand twisting and types with one finger poking the keyboard.
“Others type with two hands, but I can only use one finger. Others can write with pen and paper, but I can only scribble.”
Moreover, Xie had never received a systematic education at school before studying as a university auditor. He studied at home and his teachers were his parents and grandfather.
But he managed to complete nearly ten research papers and wrote them all in English at Lanzhou University.
In addition, Xie participated in many academic conferences on mathematics with his teachers, during which he often raised questions to famous scholars.
Xie said that his dream is to publish an article on one of the top four journals on mathematics in the world.
He also understands that rejection is common in paper publication.
“My first paper was rejected five or six times before it was published. In March last year, I submitted another paper to the journal, Graph Theory. Both my supervisor and I thought that paper was good, but I received a rejection letter in January this year.”
“I always have a positive mindset and a reasonable expectation. If my paper was rejected, I will revise it and submit again.”
Recently, Xie finished the first draft of his “doctoral” thesis. However, due to lack of a student status, he may not be entitled to obtain a doctoral degree certificate and will graduate as an auditor.
“In fact, I have expected this result. It would be not true that I’m not disappointed. But I want to continue with my research, no matter whether I can get a degree certificate or not,” Xie said.
“I hope that when people mention my name, they will not think of my disabled body, but of my graph theory research and mathematical achievements. This is my ideal state,” Xie repeated this sentence twice.
After that, he stayed silent for a few seconds, shook his head and smiled shyly.