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David Levy was worried his classmates would stare when he
walked into his first class at San Jacinto College three years
They didn't, even when his feet didn't quite reach the floor after
he sat at a desk.
At 11, David was the youngest student to enroll at the
community college. Now 14, he will graduate next month with an
associate degree in mathematics.
He already is studying mechanical engineering at the University
of Houston, where he is a junior.
Younger students have become more common on community
college campuses with the growth of programs offering both
high school and college credit. The Guinness Book of Records
lists Michael Kearney as the world's youngest college graduate;
he graduated from the University of South Alabama in 1994 at
the age of 10.
Even so, David Levy has been something special on the San Jacinto College south campus,
where he attends classes.
"The thing that is scary is the speed at which he learns stuff," said Jim Meeks, chairman of
the computer science and information technology department. "It's exciting."
But David, a tall, slim teen with braces and stylish glasses, shrugs
off the accomplishment.
"I'm a hard worker," he said. "It's not like I'm anything special. If anyone has the same
determination, they could do it, too."
Maybe. But David was never an average child.
His father, Bob Levy, an engineer who works on the space station, said he began teaching
David to read at 3 1/2 . By age 4, he was reading Hamlet.
He worked math problems instead of watching TV.
When his mother, Susan Levy, began taking classes at San Jacinto College after her only
child started elementary school, David was fascinated by her math homework.
"I asked her to teach me and then it got over her head, so she asked Dad to do it," he said.
By then, David, who skipped both kindergarten and fifth grade, was taking the most
advanced classes offered at Clear Lake Christian School.
Finally, he exhausted the curriculum there. Susan Levy approached Pam Campbell, one of
her former professors.
Campbell, who now is dual credit director at the San Jacinto College south campus, had a
colleague check with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to ensure the school
could accept David as a student.
The state had no age restrictions. Next Campbell wanted to meet with David.
"My usual question to students that are young is to make sure they want to do this, that it's
not their parents pushing them," she said.
David alleviated that concern, too.
"He was very curious. He was very driven," Campbell said. "He'd taken our trigonometry
textbook and taught it to himself."
He plays basketball and hangs out with friends from his family's church, Evangelical
Formosa Church in Clear Lake. He saw Twilight on its opening weekend. He recently
changed the oil in his mom's car, and he loves to ski.
"It's not going to be all textbooks," Bob Levy said.
Susan Levy has spent the past three years driving David to class, first at the San Jacinto
College campus and now to the UH central campus, as well.
But she long ago stopped ducking into the classroom to see how he was doing.
Now, students don't give David a second look as he walks across campus, and he says
most don't know how old he is. He's part of the Gaming Guild at San Jacinto College's south
campus, where students program and develop video games, as well as play them.
Ultimately, he hopes to attend graduate school and work in the space program, like his dad.
He's pretty quiet in class.
"For the first two semesters, I didn't speak up in class," he said. "I'm just a quiet kind of guy."
His teachers say he's quick to give older students a hand with challenging problems. But his
mother notes that he's not so hot at picking up his room.
"He's just like a normal teenager," she said.
By jeannie.kever chron.com
Nov. 27, 2008, 11:27PM
David Levy, who will soon earn an associate
degree, read 'Hamlet' at age 4.