Ivylee Rosario – General Assignment Reporter –
For most students, the age of sixteen means being a sophomore in high school and going about the daily challenges of finding their first job and trying to keep up their grade point average. But for Maeda Hanafi, being sixteen means graduating from college with a Computer Science degree and choosing what graduate school to attend the following year.
When someone hears of a sixteen year old being in college, the first thing that comes to mind is that student must be a genius, but in actuality, Maeda doesn’t view herself like that at all.
“I don’t see myself as a genius. There are people in this world who are smarter than me and who have done more than I have,” said Hanafi. “I am just on a quest for knowledge and that has led me here.”
Hanafi was home schooled which she said allowed her to get through school faster than a public school she could have attended.
“Home schooling helped me learn exactly what I wanted. At a normal school you are stuck with the curriculum they give to you, at home I was able to study what I wanted and what I was interested in,” said Hanafi.
Due to home schooling being so different than public schooling, it seems the transition into college might be nerve wracking at such a young age.
“She was so young, I was concerned how she would adapt to being in these classes with students that were much older than her,” said Ataollah Elhi, a professor of computer science. “I was surprised at how well she adjusted to the work and how she carried herself throughout the class, it was like she was the same age group as every other student.”
Hanafi started off by attending Gateway Community College for a year. Then she transferred to the University of New Haven but only stayed there for a semester. She finally came to Southern after leaving UNH because it was closer and less expensive for her family due to the fact that her brother was also going to attend college; he is a year younger.
“The transition between schools was fine. It’s all about learning in the end so I didn’t really care where I was as long as I was given the opportunity to learn,” said Hanafi. “I don’t prefer one school over the other because I am just here to learn as much as I can, not socialize.”
Although she didn’t find the change from schools to affect her studies, Hanafi did share some opinions about professors she has had in the past. Professors need to stay on track and get to the greater point of the topic that is being discussed, not tip-toe around the discussion, she said, because that wastes time.
“At first I thought the whole process might have been a little much for her, but as I got to know Maeda, I was in awe about how seriously she took her school work. It was inspiring,” said Imad Antonios, chairperson of the computer science department.
Hanafi will be graduating this year and is looking at her options for graduate school. She has already been accepted to the University of Michigan but is still exploring other schools she may want to attend.
“I felt some pressure at first being so young and coming to college, but then I remembered that its not about the people around me or what they may think,” said Hanafi, “it’s about my intention to learn and my motivation to stay in school. I am captivated by my professor’s words and what they have to teach me.”