Homeschooled Student with Disability Graduates From Lehigh University with 3 STEM Degrees

Matthew Kilgore. (Photo: Christa Neu/Lehigh University)
Matthew Kilgore. (Photo: Christa Neu/Lehigh University)

Matthew Kilgore loves to learn.

“I’ve always enjoyed problem solving — there’s something incredibly satisfying about getting an answer that is exact,” Kilgore says.

Kilgore has spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative disorder that destroys lower motor neurons, impairing muscle movement.

There is no cure for this disorder. As a result, Kilgore is confined to a wheelchair and speaks with the aid of a microphone and a voice enhancer. He recently underwent a procedure to have a feeding tube inserted into his stomach.

But these setbacks have not kept Kilgore from learning. Homeschooled by his mother, Brita, Kilgore’s interests have always pivoted around math and science.

“I’ve speculated that the reason may have something to do with my feeling comfortable with the precision of math, but that’s a tad after-the-fact reasoning,” Kilgore says. “All I can say for sure is that, because I was homeschooled, I was able to focus on what I was passionate about; that was math and problem-solving.”

“With math, the great thing about homeschooling is you can move at your child’s pace,” Brita says. “So, I always thought that we’d move at his pace and if he needs to slow down, we will slow down, but that never happened.”

At 12 years old, Kilgore joined a high school math team run by Lehigh University math professor, Don Davis.

Davis would later become Kilgore’s mentor.

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Source: USA Today |