Sat, June 06, 2009
Lifestyle > Mainland

11-year-old half Chinese boy graduates from two-year U.S. college

2009-06-06 17:38:17 GMT2009-06-07 01:38:17 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by George Bao

LOS ANGELES, June 6 (Xinhua) -- As one of the youngest students to graduate from a two-year community college at the age of 11, Moshe Kai Cavalin has every reason to be proud of himself.

But the half Chinese American boy told Xinhua in an interview: "I feel proud, but not too proud, because pride is the enemy of learning."

Cavalin graduated from East Los Angeles Community College on Friday with an Associate of Arts degree. He is the youngest graduate from the college, and perhaps the youngest graduate in the United States among all the graduates this year.

What surprised many is not only his young age, but his excellent performance: he graduated with straight A. With a GPA of4.0, he is one of three graduates from the college who have high score.

Asked whether he found it boring to take college courses while other children at his age were still at elementary schools, Cavalin said: "No, not boring at all." Instead, he said, he enjoyed learning those lessons.

When he first went to the college at age 8, professors treated him as a child. But later, he became one of the class and got along pretty well with his classmates who were 18 years and older.

The 11-year-old college graduate has his own website at, and he is going to write a book to tell his secrets on how he graduated from college at 11 years old by self study without going to the primary school and high school.

"I want to be a scientist like Albert Einstein. I am applying for Stanford University or California Institute of Technology. I am also applying for scholarship so I can support myself to complete my university," said Calvalin.

Calvalin's mother Sandy Chien comes from Taiwan, and his father is from Brazil. Chien said her son showed his talent at the age of two. He learned very fast and liked to watch TV and read children's books. Chien, who has a master's degree in business administration, decided to give up her job and teach her son by herself.

"I tried to send my son to the elementary school, but found that he learned too fast and very often he had nothing to do in class. So I decided to teach him at home," said Chien.

Like many Chinese parents, Chien sent her son to a private school to learn piano at 4, and later sent him to learn Chinese Kung Fu. At 7 years old, Calvalin had completed his high school at home. Chien tried to contact East Los Angeles Community College, but his application was turned down because school administrators thought he was too young to attend college.

At 8 years old, Calvalin applied for the college for the second time and was admitted after passing the entrance examination.

"My son likes mathematics and science. He also likes piano and had several chances to perform in public. Albert Einstein and Bruce Lee are his idols. Like other children at his age, he likes to play games with his friends of the same age. However, he keeps a good relationship with those who are 10 years older than him at college," said Chien.

In the eyes of his college classmates, Calvalin is a boy, a younger brother. But this younger brother would help his elder brothers and sisters with their studies. Many times his elder brothers and sisters would ask him to tutor them to solve some problems in mathematics and other fields.

Chien said her son plans to complete his four-year college at 14 years old to get his bachelor's degree, win his master's degreeat 17 and gain his PhD degree at 19.

Born in America, English is Calvalin's mother tongue. However, he can speak some Chinese and is also good at Hispanic. French is also his second language.

Calvalin is not the first college graduate at age 11. According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Adragon De Mello graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in computational mathematics in 1988 at age 11. He is the youngest college graduate in U.S. history at that time. However, De Mello did not become a scientist or any professional. As of 2003, he was working for the Home Depot chain store.

De Mello's record was broken by Michael Kearney. He is listed in the Guinness Book as the world's youngest university graduate at the age of 10, receiving a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of South Alabama.

Kearney has a Japanese mother and a Caucasian father. He attended Santa Rosa Junior College at the age of 6 years and 7 months, from which he graduated at the age of 8 with an associate of science in geology. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a master's degree in chemistry at the age of 14, and taught in college at 17.

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