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GRADUATES TIP CAPS TO CAMPUS FOUR 17-YEAR-OLDS AMONG COLLEGE CLASS.

Byline: Carol Rock Staff Writer

VALENCIA - The graduating class of 2005 that strode down the Honor Grove walkway at College of the Canyons on Friday night was its largest ever, with 1,153 candidates receiving associate of arts or associate of science degrees.

While the average age of the graduates was 25.5, four were only 17 - completing two years of college work before most students graduate from high school.

Ray Alfano, Celia Ann Myers, Natalie Michelle Doolittle and Ashley B. Miliotti made history by being the largest group of 17-year-olds to graduate together, besting the 2001 record of two minors receiving degrees.

Alfano, who had to miss the ceremonies due to dental surgery, graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average. The Ventura County resident started taking classes at College of the Canyons in his sophomore year at Westlake High School, adding classes from Moorpark College soon thereafter.

He passed the high school proficiency test and graduated with his associate's degree in what would have been his junior year in high school. UCLA has indicated it will welcome him as a full-time student once he leaves College of the Canyons.

``A lot of people thought I was older,'' he said. ``I really enjoy learning and College of the Canyons offered me a great opportunity.''

Fluent in Japanese, French, German and Arabic, Alfano plans to study Middle Eastern history at UCLA, with the hope of teaching at a university and being an Arabic translator.

``I just wanted to learn everything, but I do have fun,'' he said. ``I'm a musician and play a guitar with a group. My social life is a lot like any other 17-year-old's.''

Miliotti said that going to Valencia High and College of the Canyons at the same time was a challenge time-wise, but worth every minute.

``I loved school, so I figured that as long as I could take classes I liked, I would do it,'' she said. ``But sometimes I would be at school until 9:50 at night, then I'd have to do homework for both schools. It was tough, but I really wanted to do this. I'm also involved in a lot of student activities at the college; I just got elected vice president of Associated Student Government, so I need to finish that term.''

Her father, Steve, said his daughter is driven for maximum achievement.

``She figures she's got a long time in doctorate school, so she might as well get started while she's young,'' he said.

``I'm majoring in biological science, since my goal is to become a veterinarian,'' she said. ``I've wanted to be one since I was little and since I grew up on a ranch. It was a natural.''

Miliotti takes specialized classes in agriculture and animal ethics at Pierce College, where she will continue to attend classes until she hears from the school of her dreams, the University of California at Davis. She plans to enroll at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, in the spring if Davis doesn't admit her, but in the meantime, she will stay active at College of the Canyons.

Social science major Michael Calvo and nursing major Melissa Parsons were the featured student speakers. Sixteen graduates had 4.0 grade-point averages, and 220 were honors graduates, with GPAs of 3.5 or above.

Thirty international students, representing six countries, received degrees. The subject area with the highest number of graduates is transfer studies, with 407 graduates, followed by 108 graduates in both the social science and accounting programs. The college's nursing program had 66 registered and licensed vocational nurse graduates.

Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252

carol.rock(at)dailynews.com

BY THE NUMBERS

College of the Canyons

Class of 2005

Graduates: 1,153 (15.6 percent more than in 2004)

Women: 672

Men: 481

Average age: 25.5

Youngest: 17

Eldest: 68

International students: 30 (Japan, Peru, Taiwan, Sweden, Albania, Hong Kong)

Average grade-point average: 3.01.

4.0 students: 16

3.5 and above: 220

Majors: 42

Transfer studies: 407

Social science: 108

Accounting program: 108

Nursing: 66

Biological/physical sciences: 64

Fire technology: 50

General arts and sciences: 42

Administration of justice: 41

Early childhood education: 34

Math: 25

Source: College of the Canyons

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BY THE NUMBERS (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:May 22, 2005
Words:711
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