Never too late, never too soon

On the fast track
At the June commencement ceremony, Saba Ahmed will be the first 19year-old to receive her bachelor’s of science for a double major in… brace yourself: electrical engineering and physics from PSU – afive year degree completed in three.

Ahmed graduated high school at fifteen and took the CambridgeUniversity General Certificate of Secondary Education exams to geta feel for college level courses. Her family moved to Portland fromPakistan in 2000 and she began taking general education courses atPortland Community College. She became involved with the studentgovernment, worked for the campus internal affairs, helped organizethe Hate Crime Awareness Rally: Legacy of Mathew Shepard, theOregon Governor’s forum and was the President of the MuslimStudents Association.

With smaller classes and different teaching styles at P.C.C.,Ahmed was not sure that she had made the right decision totransfer. In fact, the change from P.C.C to PSU sent the17-year-old into shock:

“I almost decided to change my major to a completely differentfield like business or something else due to one of myinstructors.”

She attributes her determination to her advisor, Dr. DouglasHall, who refused to let her drop and insisted that she stick tothe program. This advice has paid off; in the spring of 2003, Ahmedwas offered a six-month internship at Intel, worth eight credits,where she worked as a BIOS validation engineer testing IBMprocessors. The scholarship was extended for three months and sheis now at OMSI for her senior design project, where she has beendeveloping a light tracking system using an infrared camera andtechno beam.

She says that her favorite things about Portland State are herfriends and study groups, and credits the school with giving herthe best of her education.

Next in line for Ahmed are the LSATs, as she plans to move on toLewis and Clark to pursue intellectual property law with the hopeof becoming a patent attorney.

‘The best age I’ve ever been’
At 69, Cecille Beyl is an active mountain climber, runner andhiker, and as of June 14, she will attain her master’s degree inFrench.

“It’s really cool; 69 is the best age I’ve ever been,” Beylremarked enthusiastically.

She began her education at Portland State University while shewas working as a pediatric cardiologist, taking one class at a timeuntil she retired nine years ago. She then began attending schoolfull time and maintaining her ties to the hospital as avolunteer.

“I always wanted to go back to school to learn about languagesand history,” Beyl said. In 1997 she was on her way, tucking abachelor’s degree in French under her belt. Continuing as agraduate student, she will be taking further classes in French,Spanish and history. Her scholastic goals extend for 31 years.

“I plan to learn as much as I possibly can in the next 31 years,and when I’m 100 I’ll take a year off to figure out what I will dowith the rest of my life.”

Beyl has taken short breaks from PSU in the past to colleges inQuebec, Israel and France but insists that she would alwaysreturn:

“Portland State University is really unique, exceptionallyscholarly and supportive of students. The quality of the professorsand the students make it a great school.” She noted that in herexperience, the teachers and advisors took her seriously and foundthat most students are financing their way through school, so theyare serious about their classes.