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Yi Xiaoyuan: A self-reliant individual in a wheelchair

In August 2015, an article entitled “Life in a wheelchair: the spark is still going” was viewed on Wechat for more than 100,000 times. After more than two months, the author of the article Yi Xiaoyun was again at the center of attention. He was awarded Tsinghua University’s 2015 Undergraduates "Top Grade Scholarship". This is the highest honor for students of Tsinghua University.

 Yi Xiaoyuan's supervisor said, “He is a reflection of Tsinghua’s Motto of Self-Discipline and Social Commitment.” However when he was first admitted into the Department of Computer Science and Technology at Tsinghua University in 2012, Yi recalled, “I was worried about my physical condition and have no idea how I’m going to get through the next four years.” 

When Yi Xiaoyuan was 6 years old, he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and by the age of 10, both of his femoral head were damaged to the point that he couldn’t even stand up. He could only rely on his wheelchair. In order to thank his family’s meticulous care and his friends’ support, Yi “repaid his gratitude through his hard-work.” In the 2012 National College Entrance Examination, Yi ranked 16th in his home province of Yunnan and successfully was admitted into Tsinghua University. 

During the three years at Tsinghua, Yi’s life is a lot harder than the other students. While others take 10 minutes to get to their classroom from their dormitory, Yi needs at least 20 minutes. He only could select courses located in buildings with elevators. “There were some courses that I love however, once the timetable details came out, I had to say no since their locations were inconvenient.” During rainy and snowy days, he needs to keep warm and ensure that he doesn’t catch a cold or else he will become really sick. 

“If I don’t work hard then I won’t have a future.” Yi strived to make his life at Tsinghua interesting and rich. During his three years at Tsinghua, Yi went from 69th to 9th in ranking of his class. During his first summer vacation, he, as the Team leader took a group of students to an expedition site in Yunnan. In order to ease the concerns that some had on his physical condition, he would prepare in advance so that the trip goes smoothly. Yi is also in the debating team and due to his outstanding performance; he was dubbed the “the Best Debator”. 

“Tsinghua University's motto is Self-Discipline and Social Commitment. I have my own discipline and Tsinghua showed such commitment and really made me feel included. During his first year, Yi’s Physics score is not good thus, the teacher found a convenient classroom to teach him. In his second year, Yi was the screenwriter for his Class Student festival and all rehearsals were moved to his dormitory area. For every class activity, the students took the initiatives to carry him up the stairs. “Our world used to be filled with darkness but care and support is that torch that burns on…no matter how difficult it will be, I will carry that torch and pass it on.” In July this year, an organization invited him to deliver a speech for the kids at the AIDs village. He accepted it and this is just one of his many public talks.

 "After being at Tsinghua for three years, I am much more confident,” said Yi Xiaoyuan. “It is not only that sense of confidence from my studies and knowledge but how I see myself with others and the world.” Three years ago, Yi’s aim in studying was so that he can feed himself. As he continues with his Masters in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, Yi hopes that through technology, more and more people like him can find greater convenience and support.

Note: This article was adapted from the website: