Daoud "David" Hamad graduated from college May 11. He crossed the stage at the Ohio Expo Center, two peace signs raised to screaming fans in the audience.
All 1,200 Columbus State Community College graduates have a story behind their accomplishment, and here's Hamad's: He's 15. And he will receive his high school diploma May 22 from Reynoldsburg High School.
Hamad, of Canal Winchester, is the youngest in the college's history to receive an associate degree. He started taking college classes in seventh grade through Ohio's College Credit Plus program, in which students in seventh through 12th grade can take classes from participating colleges that count for both high school and college.
To Hamad's great glee, his mother says, he is younger by several months than his sister, Danya, was when she broke that Columbus State record last spring.
Danya Hamad, who turns 17 in June, is finishing her first year at Capital University and will start law school there in August through a special program that allows a student to get a bachelor's and juris doctorate degrees in six years. She is aiming to be one of the youngest lawyers in modern history.
The two Hamad children took the entrance exam at the same time to participate in the College Credit Plus program. David has earned 64 credits through the program, and his parents have paid for extra college classes for him in the evenings and weekends. They also took advantage of the Reynoldsburg school district's open-enrollment policy, which lets students from other districts attend, to send David to the RHS Health Sciences and Human Services STEM Academy.
Danya said last week she's incredibly proud of her younger brother.
"He's worked so hard," she said. "We've been through this journey together, and I feel so blessed and so fortunate."
David is destined for medicine, dreaming for a long time of becoming a heart surgeon. He will finish his final two years of undergraduate study in pre-medicine at Capital University in Bexley. He's been accepted to other schools, including Concordia University Chicago and Ohio Northern University in Ada.
"His dad told him, 'Why are you going to go over there? You're 15. Why not just go right down the road?'" said his mother, Gadah Hamad. Plus, Capital has awarded him a full scholarship.
"I've spent the past four years in the car," Gadah Hamad added. Between running her youngest son, 9-year-old Nimmer, to soccer practices and taking her older children to college classes, her Jeep's odometer is now past 189,000 miles.
They didn't push David into this, she emphasized. He could have taken his time, but he wanted to do it.
Hamad has always been ahead, his mother brags (to his great embarrassment). He was reading before he was done with preschool. He skipped fourth grade.
By age 21, he hopes to graduate from his first-choice medical school, the University of Chicago. By 27 at the latest, he hopes to wrap up his residency.
Hamad's 19-year-old sister, Summer, will be starting in the same Capital University program in the fall.
"It'll be weird," he said.
"At least you can study together," his mother said.
"I'm not good at studying," he said. "I don't study."
But he acknowledged he might have to start sometime in the next 12 years.
Jessica Cully, an instructor with Reynoldsburg's Bodies program, geared toward students interested in pre-med, said Hamad has done wonderfully.
"I know he's going to do well," she said. "Of course, these guys in here are all roasting him."
But it seems like good-natured ribbing. He clearly has friends in the class.
His GPA right now is about 3.9, he said.
"So Danya is beating you in something," his mother teased him.
David is the third of five Hamad children. His 11-year-old sister, Sirrab, is a sixth-grader and wants to be an engineer.
If she chooses to, she can start taking college classes next year.