Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- June 11, 2003

CSUB Will Confer Degree To Youngest Graduate

The California State University, Bakersfield will award a bachelor's degree to its youngest graduate ever at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Commencement on Saturday, June 14 at 7:15 a.m.

At age 10, Christina Brown of Lancaster began taking community college classes at Antelope Valley Community College. Now 15, Brown completed her bachelors degree in psychology and on Saturday will become the youngest graduate in CSUB history.

Brown, who will be graduating with a nearly perfect grade point average, said she's no genius and attributes her success to hard work.

"I'm not a genius," Brown said. "I'm really actually normal. I'm just a hard worker. I Love learning and school and I'd much rather be able to study something that I'm really passionate about."

Brown said she began taking college classes because she was more mature than her peers and didn't really like her school. Her mother, Julie Brown, who was teaching at Antelope Valley Community College at the time, enrolled her in some community college computer classes.

It wasn't Brown's intent to get a degree when she started.

"I didn't expect this at all," she said. "I seriously thought I'd do the 2 1/2 years at community college and then go back to high school."

But when it came time to go to high school, Brown already had an associate's degree and wasn't excited about facing adolescent peer pressures.

"It sounds sort of corny since it's so overused but to 'fit in' and the peer pressure" is what Brown said she doesn't like about high school. "If you're going to be a good kid, you look sort of stupid so people are pressured into being trendy or whatever to be accepted," she added.

According to Brown, college students are more open and accepting - an atmosphere that made it easier for her to learn and succeed.

Not only is Brown graduating, she's also received top honors. She was selected outstanding graduating senior of the CSUB psychology department and also outstanding senior for the psychology honors society, Psi Chi.

Her instructors say Brown set the standard as a leader in her classes and as a mentor to students. She has worked as a teaching assistant in five psychology classes and will be making three presentations of her research this summer.

Brown was the president of the psychology club at the Antelope Valley campus and created a website for the club, which she maintains. She has pioneered fundraisers, initiated club activities such as a career-day panel and a graduate school preparation workshop, and organized field trips.

Brown completed all of her coursework at the CSUB Antelope Valley campus. With both parents working fulltime, she said it would have been impossible for her to finish her degree if she'd had to commute.

The young scholar has received a full tuition scholarship from the University of Dayton in Ohio and will begin attending classes there this fall. She'll also be working as a teaching assistant while pursuing her master's degree in psychology.

Brown is a little nervous about being so far away from home but looking forward to teaching and learning more. "Living alone; I haven't done that before but I'm really excited about it so that outweighs the fear and anxiety of being alone," she said.

CONTACT: Becky Zelinski, 661/664-2138, bzelinski@csub.edu


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