Brothers Complete Long Journey To Doctorates

Brothers Andrew and Henry DeYoung have accomplished something very few siblings do: They will defend their doctoral theses at Carnegie Mellon University within a few weeks of each other. Henry defended in December, and Andrew defended Jan. 22.

Both have spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive neuromuscular disease, that restricts the use of their hands and requires them to rely on breathing equipment and wheelchairs. Their immune systems are compromised, so they have to be careful about germs: even a cold can be fatal.

“The disease does progress very slowly,” Andrew DeYoung said. “We’re fortunate it’s been a really slow progression.”

That has not stopped either brother, however, in excelling in their chosen fields. Henry DeYoung, 35, started as an undergraduate in the School of Computer Science in 2003. After being accepted, he and his parents met with Mark Stehlik, then assistant dean for undergraduate studies, Larry Powell, then director of the Office of Disability Resources, and Mike Murphy, then dean of Student Affairs.

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