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Answering the Call: William Maillis

There is nothing unusual about seeing college students and children on our campus, but HCHC recently hosted a most unusual visitor who is both a college student and a child. Eleven-year-old William (Vasilios) Maillis is one of the youngest people ever to graduate from a public high school--at the ripe old age of nine--and will soon have his associate's degree from St. Petersburg College in Florida. His long-term goal is to earn a doctorate in astrophysics and ultimately prove scientifically that God exists.

On February 22, the HCHC community had the opportunity to hear William and his father, Fr. Peter (Panteleimon) Maillis, a graduate of both Hellenic College and Holy Cross, converse with Fr. Christopher Metropulos, HCHC President, onstage at the Maliotis Cultural Center. The conversation was the latest in a series of Presidential Encounters themed "Answering the Call" in which, Fr. Christopher explains, "We invite Orthodox Christians who are doing extraordinary things in their lives to share their experiences with us."

Guided by questions from Fr. Christopher and later by audience members, William demonstrated that he is indeed a child genius but also a regular kid who credits his family and his faith with keeping him on a steady course through a childhood marked by stunningly precocious developmental milestones. "I may be more book-smart than most kids my age, but I like a lot of the same things that they do, normal stuff like video games and watching TV," he said.

William's interest in proving the existence of God began "when I was about five or six" and has evolved into a complex theory that he hopes one day to prove. Although his summary of that theory may have gone over the heads of many of his listeners, the driving force behind it was clear: "Science and theology don't have to be separate... Scientific knowledge is a gift from God, like everything else. We need to learn more about our faith and about where we are in the universe." Recounting the parable of the talents, William said, "We need to invest our talents, our gifts that we have from God, and not just bury them." For this young man with his eyes on both the heavens and Our Father in Heaven, it seems safe to say that the sky is the limit.