A typical prodigy


On the outside, Ryan Deng seems like your typical high school student. Just like you and me, he has to wake up at ungodly hours of the day to get to school. He goes to classes, eats, does his homework, and sleeps. What makes him different is the sheer dedication he puts into school.

Everyone says high school is a time for change. These four years can make or break you. For Ryan, he has had to make some difficult choices in order to keep up with his schoolwork. In recent years, he has slowly quit playing the piano and switched it out with debate.

At just 14 years old, the pressure of getting ahead of his peers while already being younger is adding up. His message to kids out there who are feeling this kind of stress from schoolwork is as follows: “Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re done.”

Weekends are usually a time to celebrate after going through a rigorous five days of classes. Not for Ryan. On weekends, he pores over research and goes through speeches he has prepared for the debate tournament which usually goes for all of Friday and Saturday.

In his spare time, Ryan is a content creator. He especially likes to vlog his time with friends and debate tournaments. He puts these vlogs on Youtube and Instagram, as his fans do like to be kept updated.

Here are some of Ryan’s thoughts on the matter:

Do you ever feel compared to other kids on Youtube?

“Don’t listen to what anyone says, they just wish they could be you. As long as you’re genuine and you work hard, then you will feel fulfillment for yourself.”

What does a typical debate tournament look like for you?

“On Fridays, we’ll head up for the first set of rounds a little before school ends. We get back home at around 10 or 11 and repeat this all the next morning, except we actually have to get to the school at 7 am on Saturdays. Rounds will start right as we get there. I do Congress and rounds go for about three hours per session. It can get super exhausting but it feels pretty rewarding at the end of the day.”

Would you say your age is a disadvantage when it comes to tournaments?

“Talent can take you far, but hard work can take you anywhere. I do feel a little young at times, but you really just gotta pull your weight when it comes to these things.”

When was the most rewarding experience you’ve ever had thus far?

Recently at a big tournament, I placed first. It was really unexpected and I felt like my hard work paid off. Yeah, debate is hard and it can suck at times, but it’s the kind of extracurricular that reflects how much time you’ve put into it.

High school is a busy time and most everyone can probably relate to the intense workload that follows. Once in a while, some good advice could really help! Whenever life is getting you down, remember to look towards Ryan and, “Keep going till you can’t anymore.”