William Maillis Earns Associate Degree in College at Age 11

Fr. Panteleimon Maillis with his son William (Vasilis), age 11, who just graduated with an associate degree from St. Petersburg College. Photo: Courtesy of Fr. Panteleimon Maillis

PALM HARBOR, FL – William (Vasilis)Maillis is a child phenomenon who has sparked global interest for his intelligence. At only 11 years old, he recently graduated from St. Petersburg College in Florida with an associate degree, and plans to begin his studies at the University of Florida in a few weeks.

The public school system didn’t know what to do with such ahighly intelligent child, who can only be described as “a miracle.”

He is the son of the Fr. Panteleimon and Presvytera NancyMaillis. Fr.Maillis is the presiding priest for the Church of Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene in Palm Harbor, FL.

Fr. Maillis is originally from the island of Kalymnos and immigrated to the United States when he was only 11 months old. He spoke to The National Herald about his son, noting that Vasilis showed great promise from a very young age, and that he was quite different from other children.

He told TNH, “Vasilis recently received an Associate Degree of the Arts, from St. Petersburg College, which is a two-year college.”

When asked how the boy was able to attend college even though he is only 11, his father told TNH that Vasili knew his numbers at only 6 months old, “I remember when we were with the Presvytera at the doctor’s office and he found the magazine Sports Illustrated, he was sitting on my knee and he was reading the numbers that were on the jerseys.”

“When he was seven months old, he was saying complete sentences. I told him, for example, Vasili go to bed and he responded that he didn’t want to go.”

Fr.Maillis also said that “when he was one and a half years old, he was able to do addition and subtraction. At age 2, he could already read and write.”

William (Vasilis) Maillis at the graduation ceremony. Photo: Courtesy of Fr. Panteleimon Maillis

When asked how Vasilis learned all this at such a young age when he had not even started school, he responded, “[he learned it] from me and my wife, and he also has 2 older siblings. My daughter Marianna is 30 years old and my son Elias is 28. Vasilis was the surprise after 17 years. We all played with him and taught him and he absorbed the information like a sponge.”

“He also… learned aboutthe planets, how far each planet is from the sun, the names of the moons, and more. At age 3, he had learned the alphabet in 6 languages; English, Greek, French, Spanish, Hebrew. He also went on the computer and he learned sign language by himself.”

“We were surprised when in only one afternoon, he learned to read Greek. Furthermore, when he was 4 years old, he started kindergarten. At age 5 he entered first grade but was placed in 5th grade English and high school level math.”

He stated that, “the principal of the school was a very good man and when he saw Vasilis, he was very happy and was so enthusiastic about his abilities that he offered to help. His teacher called me and said ‘Father, I don’t know what to do.’ The school principal told us that they didn’t know what to do because they had never seen a child that progressed so quickly.”

“They told me to call the head of the Pennsylvania Gifted Children’s Department (at the time we were living in Pennsylvania). They recommended that he should go to a specialized school for extremely gifted children. Vasilis took the required examinations and passed with excellent scores. He went from 3rd grade in public school straight to senioryear in high school. He completed high school in May 2016 at the age of 9. Of course, I am very proud of my son and I feel very blessed.”

Now Vasilis is preparing for the University of Florida and in two years he will have earned a Bachelor’sdegree in Astrophysics. Because he is only 11 years old and cannot drive or stay in a dorm, his parents will drive him to and from the University, which is 45 minutes away from home.