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High school? Pffhht! She's a college grad at 16

Posted: May 30, 2008 1:38 a.m.
Updated: July 31, 2008 5:01 a.m.

This year's youngest College of the Canyons grad, 16-year-old Natasha Walia, stands in her backyard with the Latin Bible she was given as a gift.

Natasha Walia will walk across the stage in her first graduation ceremony today as she receives an associate degree from College of the Canyons.

The 16-year-old home-schooled student also just completed the requirements for her high school diploma, so the graduation will serve to celebrate both achievements.

"We're going to count the COC graduation as my high school graduation, too," Natasha said. "I'm very excited, and I'm also nervous, because I've never been through a graduation ceremony."

The Saugus resident has been homeschooled, along with her younger brother and sister, since fifth grade by their mother Elizabeth Walia. She also enrolled in COC's concurrent enrollment program, which allowed her to work toward a high school and associates diploma at the same time.

"This past year, I just decided I wanted to get it done," Natasha said about her early completion of the two degrees. "It was very time consuming, but it wasn't too stressful. It was actually just right."

Natasha hopes to study Biblical languages next fall at The Master's College, but she has also applied at University of California, Los Angeles. Her career goal is to be a literary translator.

"Languages have always interested me ever since I was a little girl," she said. "I've always looked up to people who can speak another language."

Natasha plans to study Spanish, Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew at Master's. The language lover already studies Latin just for fun.

"I had a friend who was studying Latin, so I tried it and I fell in love my first semester," Natasha said. She received a Latin Bible for her 16th birthday.

Natasha said she doesn't feel like she has missed out on anything by concentrating on her studies and graduating early.

"School is my forte, so I was glad I could take advantage of that," she said. "I've had a very fulfilled school experience and I feel like I haven't missed out on anything."

In between studying for her high school and college courses, Natasha attended church three times a week, spent time with her friends and played sports.

"I think, being homeschooled, you don't get less socialization, you actually get more, because you can take your work with you and go places," she said.


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