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13-Year-Old Prodigy Begins at University of New Haven

Release Date:
9/18/2009 9:50 AM

West Haven, Conn., September 18, 2009—Though Maeda Hanafi enjoys many of the same pastimes as her 13-year-old peers – from rollerblading to knitting to computer games – every morning as her friends head off to middle school, Maeda heads to classes at the University of New Haven (UNH).

The youngest student ever admitted to UNH, Maeda credits her parents, Imam and Anna, for much of her success. Three years after arriving in the United States from Jakarta, Indonesia, Imam graduated from UNH in 1995 with a degree in computer science before heading to the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science, New York University. Anna, a trained economist, has been home schooling Maeda and her three siblings, ages 5 to 11, since 2004.

Imam now operates Algosmith Computing, a local business that builds financial-system software for Wall Street companies. Maeda shares his love, and aptitude for, all manner of computerization. An avid gamer, she is majoring in computer science and plans to put her skills and UNH degree to use as a computer scientist for industry. This summer, she used her developing skills to maintain the web site for the Masjid Al-Islam mosque in New Haven, which her family attends.

Maeda began her college route last fall at Gateway Community College in New Haven, where, because of her age, she was required to be accompanied by Anna. As a dean’s list student during her year at Gateway, Maeda’s work qualified her for a $12,000 merit scholarship at UNH. “We are delighted to have Maeda here,” says Melissa Laskowski, associate director of Undergraduate Admissions at UNH. “She’s very bright and very mature; I think she’ll bring a fresh perspective to all her classes.” As to attending college classes unchaperoned, Maeda seems unfazed. “I’m ready, and I’m already having a good time,” she says.

A leader in experiential education, the University of New Haven is experiencing a historic and nationally recognized surge in enrollment. Founded in 1920, the University provides its students with a unique combination of solid liberal arts and real-world, hands-on professional training. UNH is a private university with an 80-acre main campus. The University has an enrollment of more than 5,200; approximately 1,700 graduate students and more than 3,500 undergraduates, 70 percent of whom reside in University housing.  The University offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees and more than 25 graduate degrees through its five colleges, in fields such as sports management, nutrition, forensic science, music and sound recording, engineering, computer science and criminal justice. University College at UNH develops programs and courses to meet the emerging educational and training needs of educators, businesses and public and social agencies, focusing on academic excellence, convenience and flexibility. University of New Haven students study abroad through a variety of distinctive programs.