‘I am thankful for everything I have!’ | North Carolina math whiz beats the odds, excels in academics and life

Jack Craig beat the odds, graduating at the top of his class at Weaver Academy, surviving Spina bifida, and an orphanage in China.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It’s not where you start or what you have that makes you great. A 2020 graduate of Guilford County Schools is proof that being successful is all about overcoming obstacles and making the most out of every opportunity.

19-year-old Jack Craig beat incredible odds, not only graduating at the top of his class, but the performing arts graduate is heading to North Carolina State University to pursue his passion for math. 

Craig’s story begins in the People’s Republic of China, where he was born and abandoned at birth during the country’s one-child policy. The birth planning policy was part of a program designed to control the size of the population. It set a limit on the number of births parents could have. On top of that, Jack Craig was also born with Spina bifida, which was considered a burden to Chinese families.

“I have it right at my neck. Most people who have Spina bifida are impaired from the neck down and you would think that where I had it, I would be impaired, but I’m not,” said Craig. He told WFMY News 2’s Tracey McCain, an elderly couple who watched over him while he was living on the street, tried to cure his disability by wrapping his head in palm leaves.

“The couple fed me and looked out for me, that’s how I survived for three years,” said Craig. “As far as I know, they wrapped my head with palm leaves and various herbs and somehow, I didn’t have any other issues.”

Craig was taken into an orphanage in China at four years old and one year later, a Greensboro couple adopted him.

“My dad runs R.H. Barringer with his brothers which is a local beer distributor and my mother is a photographer,” said Craig, who is one of his parents’ eight children. The Craigs adopted five of their eight children.

Part of a big crew, Jack Craig always stood out in the classroom. “As a young kid, I was always enamored with math. I don’t know why,” said Craig. “I would watch YouTube videos about math and I was fascinated by equations and how you ended up with the results.”

Craig graduated with a 4.3 GPA. He is a math whiz but he went to Weaver Academy in Greensboro for his voice. With such intelligence and talent among his list of skills, Craig said he never focused on his past.

“I did at one point wonder why I was abandoned, but at the same time I already knew the answer,” he said. But right now, he’s focused on his future.

“Since I always knew the end goal was to get a doctorate, I picked a school that had a good starting point and (NC State) is a school that’s known for their STEM majors,” said Craig.

“My life could have easily gone a different path. I could have stayed in China as an orphan, be 19 in China with some unknown future, so I think just knowing that makes me humble but also it keeps me gracious. I’m thankful for everything I have,” said Craig.

Craig will major in math when he begins college at NC State in the fall.  After earning his doctorate degree, he plans on becoming a mathematician. 

Congratulations, Jack! Continue to make Greensboro proud!

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