A couple things make Dan Walker unique
Dan Walker, a computer science student at the University of Pittsburgh, is the son of Kurt and Cindy Walker of Somerset. (Staff photo by Brian Schrock)
"He never accepted the status quo," he said. "That's fine. That keeps a teacher on their toes. I think his favorite words were "why" and "how do you know?"
As a student, Walker displayed a strong business acumen and a voracious appetite for knowledge, Kreinbrook said.
"As a person, Dan was always very self-aware," he said. "He knew where he was going and he had a plan to get there."
Walker's plan is to earn a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Pittsburgh by the end of April. After that he will pursue a master's degree. He said a doctorate would actually limit his job opportunities.
"With a Ph.D. (in computer science) you have the knowledge and capability to develop something very advanced," he said. "So who needs that? Apple, Microsoft, the government, maybe some universities, and that's about it."
Walker's minor is in the classics, or the study of Greek and Roman history. It's another area of interest.
"I always liked the Romans, just because they were the big (thing)," he said. "You go back in history. It's in the Bible. It's in everything. They were the big empire. Once you start studying, you see they really changed the world. Western culture is entirely Greco-Roman. That's all it is."
In his spare time, Walker uses Skype to teach English to a Chinese friend of a friend. He enjoys watching episodes of "Ancient Aliens" on the History Channel and wonders why the network doesn't offer more programming on — well — history.
"What is 'Swamp People'? What is that?" he said, injecting even more enthusiasm into his booming voice. "It's great that they are looking at that, but it's not really a History Channel show."
Walker was recently admitted to Mensa, the high IQ society, based on test scores he earned as a second-grader. When he received a press packet from the organization announcing the honor, he was hesitant to send it to the local newspaper.
"I'm proud of it but at the same time it's blowing your own horn," he said with a laugh.
Membership, Walker said, comes with a snazzy card, networking opportunities and discounts on things such as subscriptions to Popular Science and "toys for geeks."
"It has ties with Geico," he said. "You get cheap insurance."
Walker also has an interest in the stock market and politics. He said he would like to run for office some day. For the time being, however, he is focused on returning from spring break, earning his degree and growing his upstart business.
"I do want to be able to look back and be happy with what I've done," he said. "And really that's the best way to do it, I think."