CHANDLER, Ariz. -- It’s a big moment for any college grad, but when you are 16 and your professor father hands you your diploma, it’s huge.
Friday night, teenager Habib Matar graduated with his associates degree from Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and it was his father, engineering professor Bassan Matar, who give him his honors diploma.
"He takes college very seriously, and my family overseas in Lebanon also take it very seriously," Habib Matar says. "I'd like to show them what I can do. That's all I've ever wanted, to make my dad proud."
Feeling under-challenged, Habib Matar left middle school after seventh grade and started at CGCC at age 13.
He said he felt awkward at first, but then he started meeting people. His father said he was scared it wouldn’t be the right fit for him socially, but he thrived at the college in the computer systems engineering department.
Bassan Matar beams when he says, “Wow! I would never be able to have done what he has done."
Habib Matar will attend Arizona State University on a scholarship next year, mainly because his parents won’t let him leave home until he is 18.
Bassan Matar adds, "We want to keep him home until he finishes his Ph.D., but he keeps insisting he wants to go out of state.”
By the time he is 18, Habib Matar wants to be starting his graduate work at Stanford University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then he really wants to work for Google.
"I would love to develop apps or games for them ... or the Google glasses. I really want to get into that,” he says.
He doesn’t have his driver's license yet, but at 16 he has his first college diploma and is well on his way to achieving his dreams.