From the time he was a child, Patrick Bogans knew he was different from other kids.
His entire life, he has noticed his frail skin, thin hair and abnormally developed teeth. But it wasnt until his orthodontist mentioned Patrick showed signs of a genetic disorder called ectodermal dysplasia that he began to understand his physical differences.
So when it came time to put together his senior science project at West Mecklenburg High this spring, choosing a research topic was easy ectodermal dysplasia.
The disorder involves defects in hair, nails, sweat glands and teeth. There are more than 150 different types, and it is often diagnosed by a physician who notices teeth are not forming normally, according to the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasia.
I think Patrick intellectually enjoyed researching his condition, and I cant help but think it will make him a better and more rounded person throughout his life. He recognizes his uniqueness, said Keith Camburn, Patricks AP science teacher. We all strive to understand ourselves.
Patrick, now a freshman at UNC Charlotte, said the project taught him to not let anybody affect you, no matter your illness or condition.
What are you? Patrick said kids have asked him through the years.
His response was always the same: Im human.
He focused on academics and his core group of friends in high school. He was in the top 10 of his senior class, co-editor of the yearbook, member of the National History Honors Society, and voted best history and writing student. He was also on the swim team. He plans to major in computer science.
I cannot think of a more caring, thoughtful, well mannered and dedicated student, Camburn said. He is simply the type of student every teacher wants to have in class.
Patrick Bogans tips:
Q: What advice would you give to kids with similar struggles?
Find the right people (they) can get you through anything.
Q: What is a motto you tend to live by?
Clear eyes, full heart, cant lose, from the TV show Friday Night Lights.
Q: Whats one thing worth remembering in tough times?
Know it will get better.