Siblings’ achievements extend beyond borders

Auston Gonzalez, Editor in chief

The Romanian brothers could pass for any typical high school students. That is, until you get to know them.

Before most of us awaken in the morning, Viorel Silaghi practices his piano skills, while younger brother Mircea finishes the final leg in his daily three-mile run before getting ready for school. Mircea comes through the door and greets Viorel. Not in English, but in French.

Born in Switzerland, with family from both Switzerland and Romania, Viorel and Mircea-David Silaghi are anything but traditional students. Considering Viorel is a National Merit Semi-Finalist and Mircea is in the top 2.5 percent of American Math Competition competitors, they might just come across as academically-gifted individuals. Then after hearing them speak three languages and describe the 30+ countries they’ve visited, it is clear they’re pretty unique.

Despite living in Florida for nearly 16 years, Viorel said his family did not originally plan to stay in the United States for this long.

“My dad, when he finished his Ph.D., got an offer as an assistant professor at Florida Tech, so he came here,” he said. “Initially, it was only supposed to be for two years, but it’s been 16.”

The family speaks French, Romanian and English, consistently using all three languages in various situations.

“[French] is our first language,” Mircea said. “We were born in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. My brother and I always speak French. Sometimes with our dad we’ll speak Romanian because it’s polite to speak the language the person likes. We might use English every now and then for an expression or a joke.”

Melinda, a 2017 West Shore graduate and the oldest of the siblings, attends school at the University of Geneva. Viorel said he hopes to return to Lausanne, Switzerland next year, to attend either École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne or the University of Lausanne.

“My plan now is to go to either one of the two universities in Lausanne, he said, “provided I get into both of them — which should happen.”

Both Viorel and Mircea have impressive achievements including competing in a number of state-level and national academic competitions.

“I think my proudest moment is receiving a bronze medal for the United States Physics Olympiad,” Viorel said.

Mircea said his greatest achievement came in a math competition, reaching a score of more than double the mean.

“On the American Math Competition 10 last year, I got 123 out of 150 points and I never expected to get that high,” he said. “Above 120 is really amazing and it was better than my brother.”

Although all three have an array of academic accolades, Mircea said he does not consider one to be smarter than the other two.

“Our achievements are based on [Melinda] as a guinea pig experiment,” he said. “She went through everything, and we learned from that. I think our interests are closer to each other than our interests are with our sister.”