In the News

In the News:
Faith helped 17-year-old through BSU

by Bill Roberts
The Idaho Statesman

Posted May 21, 2005

Ayush Goyal entered Boise State University in 1999 at age 11.

On Saturday, he graduated with top honors, at age 17, with a bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering.

He graduated summa cum laude and was singled out for praise by Boise State University President Robert Kustra at Saturday's ceremony, who asked the thousands of students and parents at Taco Bell Arena to recognize Goya's accomplishments. Ayush stood and bowed amid thunderous applause.

But his feat is no big deal to Ayush.

"I'm not impressed by what I've done," he said.

Ayush's modesty is a product of his religion. He's a Hare Krishna who grew up next door to the Boise Hare Krishna temple, where he learned and lectured.

The tenets of his faith -- mercifulness, self-control, honesty and abstinence from sex before marriage -- have imbued him with a sense of concentration that allowed him to excel academically far beyond his years, he said.

"What questions the teachers asked I could answer because of concentration," he said.

And lots of hard work.

Ayush spent up to eight hours a day studying and doing homework. He'd toil over papers, rethinking and refining them -- sometimes past their due date.

"Did you finish?" his father, Sudhir, would ask him. "I'm working on it," his father remembers his son replying.

College, says Ayush, taught him time management.

Ayush isn't the only member of the Goyal family attending BSU. His 13-year-old sister, Shatakshi, is taking classes this year and may follow in her brother's footsteps in studying electrical and computer engineering.

Ayush was born in Roorkee, India, in the foothills of Himalayas, and moved to Idaho at age 5 when his father, a hydrologist, came to Boise in 1993 to work on a federal project.

Ayush excelled at learning at an early age. By 8, he had memorized more than 100 verses from the ancient religious teaching, the Bhagavad-Gita, in Sanskrit. His mother, Shyama Sakhi Goyal, taught him the ancient language.

Ayush shot through elementary schools, skipping fifth grade. By age 11, he was enrolled in a couple of classes at BSU.

Ayush never felt intimidated attending school with students more than twice his age. They treated him like a "younger brother."

"I never felt out of place," he said. "Education is not limited to age."

The boy was committed to his studying. "He was always in class. Always asking questions," said Scott Smith, assistant professor of computer engineering. "He learned fairly quickly, but he worked hard, too."

That hard work won him many honors. He is one of the school's Top 10 scholars for 2005. He was named one of the country's four top electrical engineering students for 2005 by Eta Kappa Nu, the national honor society for electrical and computer engineering.

Ayush isn't the youngest student to graduate from BSU. That honor belongs to Jay Luo, who got a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1982 at age 12.

Now? Ayush expects to take a year to study with a Hara Krishna spiritual master and travel the world to places such as Belgium, Spain and Peru.

Then he wants to go to graduate school -- possibly Oxford -- to study the connections between spirituality and science.

And he'll bring his religion with him. His rituals include 90 minutes of daily meditation, usually done early in the morning.

"It gets you through the day," he said. "It controls your mind. For the whole day your mind is peaceful."