Student profile: Ramses Sanguino
Eight-year-old Ramses Sanguino is enrolled in a USD physics class
Celina Tebor | Feature Editor | USD Vista
Eight-year-old Ramses Sanguino can be seen strolling across campus with his mother like many other children on campus. But, there is one aspect that distinguishes him from the other children. His mother is not the student: Ramses is.
Ramses began classes at USD in fall of 2017. He is currently taking physics classes and working personally with Daniel Sheehan, Ph.D., a professor in the physics department. He sits in class with other students, accompanied by his mother, Nyx Sanguino.
In an interview with The USD Vista, Ramses’ mother spoke on behalf of Ramses, as he tends to be shy and reserved around new people.
Ramses is the youngest child to take classes at USD in the 68 years the school has been in existence, according to Nyx.
Nyx explained why she put Ramses immediately into college courses.
“He’s a part of an experiment to see how he does,” Nyx said. “I want to see how he’s sitting and paying attention, learning to be in the environment of a class. He’s never been in a class; he’s homeschooled.”
Sheehan explained why Ramses is sitting in on the class.
“He’s basically getting his feet wet in class, he’s taking notes from time to time,” Sheehan said. “In general he’s being educated by his mom and the Internet. A lot of this is getting him familiar with the classroom setting in the hopes that he’s wanting to start with earnest.”
While Ramses is shy when talking to new people, Sheehan mentioned that he sometimes makes insightful comments in class.
“He’s mostly quiet,” Sheehan said. “He’s in his own world. He’ll occasionally take a few notes and occasionally make an observation and participate in class. I think it’s really good for our students to interact with someone not their own age or standing.”
Nyx described Ramses as a prodigious savant: an autistic child with extraordinary capabilities beyond his own age. His mother said she knew her child was special even before he came into the world.
“I had a connection with Ramses since before he was born,” Nyx said. “That’s why he has that name — Ramses — because I knew he would be a super smart kid.”
Ramses’ name means “Child of Ra,” who is the Egyptian sun God.
Ramses has multiple gifts which differentiate him from other eight year olds. Nyx listed his unique talents.
“He loves numbers, he knows by memory 200 digits of Pi,” Nyx said. “He learns languages really easily: Chinese, Greek, Japanese, Spanish, English, Arabic. He knows about eight languages in terms of reading and writing. He has a perfect pitch, he can read music and has never had a teacher.”
There are several videos on Ramses’ YouTube page, titled “Genius Ramses,” showcasing his talents. With over 250 videos, the channel features clips of Ramses reading and writing in non-English languages, doing algebra, and reciting digits of Pi.
According to his mom, Ramses flourished since he was a young child, and continues to do so today. As his mother, Nyx has seen him learn and grow at rates that she had never seen before.
“He learned how to read at seven months in Spanish, English, and Greek,” Nyx said. “He learned multiplying by 11 months, learned how to play Jingle Bells at 12 months, and learned all the continents of the world when he was 18 months.”
Nyx thought to enroll Ramses in kindergarten at the age of four, but quickly realized that the traditional education system would not work with his atypical mind.
“He was always questioning the teacher,” Nyx said. “She’d make a little mistake because she was teaching kids how to read. And he already knew how to read, and so he was calling her out every time she was making a mistake.”
Ramses himself thought that even college courses were not challenging to him.
“[College] is easy,” Ramses said.
Sheehan explained how both Ramses and his classmates benefit from having him in class.
“He’s someone that has tremendous potential, and I’d love to see it used,” Sheehan said. “I think our students have a lot to gain as well with working with someone who’s different and gifted in his own way, so I think it’s a win-win for everybody. What we get back is having a broader education for our own students and seeing what limits of human potential are.”
Academics is not the only subject Ramses excels in, according to Nyx. She believes he has telepathic powers.
“He can feel pain when other people feel pain, he can feel sadness when other people feel sadness,” Nyx said. “He can connect with people really easily and he has the ability of saying things that I think. That’s why I knew about him before I was born — I connected with him in a telepathic way.”
Neuroscientist Diane Powell, Ph.D. conducted her own research on Ramses in 2015 as a research project on telepathy. Her results were ultimately inconclusive.
According to Sheehan, Powell was the person who actually brought Ramses to him.
“I was contacted by Diane Powell, and she is an expert researcher in autistic savants,” Sheehan said. “Ramses fits into that category, apparently. She indicated that Nyx and Ramses were moving down to San Diego and asked if I could contact them. The administration here was very helpful in making sure the path was clear for him.”
Ramses explained what he is learning at USD and the experience of being in classes with students much older than him.
“I’m taking physics class,” Ramses said. “It’s the use of math to make stuff work, like to make gravity. I’m enjoying myself; the classmates are really nice.”
Sheehan believed the positive experience was on both sides of the equation.
“I think for the most part [the students] enjoy having them there,” Sheehan said. “It adds another dimension to the class.”
Nyx was surprised, but ecstatic about her son’s college career.
“Honestly, I have been so proud of him,” Nyx said. “He sits down, and he takes notes, and he pays attention [in class]. Sometimes he can be a little excited and loud maybe, but most of the time I never imagined he would do so well like he’s doing right now.”
While Nyx wanted to launch Ramses’ academic career early, she understood the importance of his childhood.
“He can be sometimes funny, and make jokes, and laugh at things like the kid that he is,” Nyx said. “But I think he’s a really different child, he needs a really different education. So I think that’s it important for him to get the stimulation he needs to get.”
Nyx has been trying to get Ramses in the public eye his whole life, so he can have the opportunity to get the proper education.
“It’s an amazing opportunity that Dr. Daniel Sheehan gave us,” Nyx said. “I’m so grateful, he’s an amazing person, he’s really smart too. I think he’s doing the right thing too, because Ramses deserves a better education.”
Nyx acknowledged that even though Ramses has not had teachers in the past, that does not mean he cannot benefit from them.
“He is a genius, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need to learn,” Nyx said.
While Ramses is learning at a pace unachievable by most, he is not sure that he wants to mature as quickly as he learns.
“I want to be a scientist when I grow up, but I don’t want to grow up,” Ramses said. “I want to stay a kid.”
Sheehan also thought that Ramses should have some typical experiences that other children do.
“He comes to office hours after [class] and we chat,” Sheehan said. “He has lots of interests. His mom got him a bicycle, and I tried to teach him how to ride a bicycle a few weeks ago.”
Nyx believes her duty is to give Ramses the best life he can have.
“I am a single mom, and what I do is be with him,” Nyx said. “My goal in life is to help him to blossom, and be the person that his brain is giving him the opportunity to be.”
Ramses Sanguino is a one-of-a-kind student and child that USD has given the opportunity to flourish. As he continues to take classes at USD, his abilities and talents may lead to further academic development.