17-year-old to graduate in May

 Dean Chia decided to drop out of high school when he was 15-years-old. He stopped attending high school after his sophomore year and thought saying he was a “dropout” would be a good conversation starter. But, technically, he graduated.

Some of Chia’s college classes contributed to the completion of his high school diploma, which was sent to him following his first year of college.

Chia, a 17-year-old senior, is graduating in May after attending Eastern for three years.
“My sister came the same time as me,” Chia said, explaining that senior Ruth Chia, who also attends Eastern, skipped one year of high school and that both siblings will graduate at the same time. “We actually have some classes together.”

Other students do not typically notice Chia’s age, which is understandable considering his laid-back manner and confident voice that set him apart from any students retaining high school-level immaturity.

For the most part, Chia said, “people can’t tell I’m younger.” He finds it especially humorous that “I’m taking the marriage class right now and I’m not even 18.”

Chia is perfectly comfortable on a college campus and at ease with his approaching graduation.

“I’m happy to move on, but I’m kind of sad,” he said, mostly shrugging it off.
He already has plans for his post-college days.

“I just finished an application for a scholarship for studying a whole year in China,” said Chia, who is majoring in mathematics with an economics minor.

Chia plans to study economics in graduate school following his year in China.

“I can speak Chinese really well but, reading and writing, not so well,” he said. “It’s a good experience to have, especially with China being such an economic giant.”

Being in the Templeton Honors College, Chia is required to study abroad, but he did not find the time before his senior year.

“I kind of have to go abroad after I graduate,” he said.

Chia, who turns 18 in December, is comfortable with his impending status of college graduate but, early in his sophomore year of high school, he “had no plans of graduating high school early,” he said.

The idea was suggested by Eastern professor Dr. Lawton, who became friends with Chia’s family after attending the church where Chia’s father was pastor. According to Chia, “(Dr. Lawton) said, ‘You should apply.'”

“It took me awhile, like, ‘Do I really want to do this?'” Chia said. “Then, I was like, ‘Why not?'”


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