11-Year-Old Graduates College With Degree in Astrophysics
Like all of this year's graduates, Moshe Kai Cavalin is excited that he completed college, with a degree in astrophysics.
But unlike the majority of college grads, Cavalin is only 11 years old and stands 4 feet, 7 inches tall.
At the age of an average sixth-grader, Cavalin has graduated from East Los Angeles Community College. But, graduating college at 11 may not be his highest goal in life.
"I want to be a movie actor and compete in the 2016 Olympics in martial arts," Cavalin told NBC affiliate Wood TV.
Cavalin has maintained an A-plus average in such subjects as algebra, history, astronomy and physical education.
"I don't consider myself a genius because there are 6.5 billion people in this world and each one is smart in his or her own way," Cavalin told Wood TV.
One of his primary interests is "wormholes," a hypothetical scientific phenomenon connected to Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. It has been theorized that if such holes do exist in space, they could — in tandem with black holes — allow for the kind of space-age time travel seen in science fiction.
"Just like black holes, they suck in particulate objects, and also like black holes, they also travel at escape velocity, which is, the speed to get out of there is faster than the speed of light," Cavalin says. "I'd like to prove that wormholes are really there and prove all the theories are correct."
Cavalin's professors can't recall having a younger student in their classes.
"He is the youngest college student I've ever taught and one of the hardest working," says Daniel Judge, his statistics professor. "He's actually a pleasure to have in class. He's a well- adjusted, nice little boy."
Cavalin was an 8-year-old freshman when he enrolled in Guajao Liao's intermediate algebra class in 2006. By the end of the term, Liao recalls, he was tutoring some of his 19- and 20-year-old classmates.
"I told his parents that his ability was much higher than that level, that he should take a higher-level course," Liao says. "But his parents didn't want to push him."
Cavalin's parents avoid calling their son a genius. They say he's just an average kid who enjoys studying as much as he likes playing soccer, watching Jackie Chan movies, and collecting toy cars and baseball caps with tiger emblems on them. He was born during the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac.
Cavalin has a general idea what his IQ is, but doesn't like to discuss it. He says other students can achieve his success if they study hard and stay focused on their work.
His parents say they never planned to enroll their son in college at age 8, and sought to put him in a private elementary school when he was 6.
"They didn't want to accept me because I knew more than the teacher there and they said I looked too bored," the youngster recalls.
His parents home-schooled him instead, but after two years decided college was the best place for him. East L.A. officials agreed to accept him if he enrolled initially in just two classes, math and physical education. After he earned A-pluses in both, he was allowed to expand his studies.
"He sees things very simply," says Judge, his statistics teacher. "Most students think that things should be harder than they are andand they put these mental blocks in front of them and they make things harder than they should be. In the case of Moshe, he sees right through the complications. ... It's not really mystical in any way, but at the same time it's amazing."
Ohio School District Catches Cheaters, Cancels Graduation
An Ohio school district says it uncovered a cheating scheme so pervasive that it had to cancel graduation ceremonies for its 60 seniors — but will still mail their diplomas.
A senior at Centerburg High School accessed teachers' computers, found tests, printed them and distributed them to classmates, administrators said.
Graduation was canceled because so many seniors either cheated or knew about the cheating but failed to report it, said officials of the Centerburg School District.
Superintendent Dorothy Holden said the district had to take a stand and let students know that cheating can't be tolerated.
"I am alarmed that our kids can think that in society it's OK to cheat, it's a big prank, it's OK to turn away and not be a whistle-blower, not come forth," Holden said.
The district says it has identified a student who apparently accessed shared file folders on teachers' computers.
Officials believe the cheating involved at least five tests in a senior World Studies class dating to early January. One of the tests quizzed students on Aztec Indian history.
Teachers had suspicions about some higher-than-expected grades during the semester, Holden said.
The cheating unraveled when a student discovered a congratulatory note to the perpetrator on a school computer Tuesday and gave it to Principal John Morgan.
Administrators learned Friday that the cheating plot may have involved underclassmen, as well.
Holden said so many students are involved that it was impossible "to separate the wheat from the chaff" in terms of deciding who could graduate. Instead, all students will be mailed their diplomas.
"We're not going to put that type of honor out there knowing that many of you are walking through there and you cheated, you lied, you denied," Holden said.
Some parents angry about the cancellation are organizing an unofficial graduation ceremony.
Jeanette Lamb, whose son is a senior at the school, asked the Centerburg School Board to reconsider its decision to cancel graduation. The board declined.
"At that point I did tell them that commencement would continue, it will be at the park, I will put it together and their presence wasn't welcome," Lamb told WTVN radio in Columbus. Lamb said parents and members of the community have offered help.
Centerburg High, with about 400 students, is one of the state's top schools, with an "excellent" academic rating last year, according to the state Department of Education.
Last year, the school had a 99 percent graduation rate, compared to a statewide rate of 87 percent.
Some students admit they cheated; others said they knew of the cheating but didn't participate; and others said they had the tests but didn't use them, Holden said.
One student who used the test still failed.