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AQUINAS TO AWARD DIPLOMA TO YOUNGEST GRADUATE

April 21, 2008 - Grand Rapids, Michigan (April 16, 2008) - Aquinas College will say farewell to 18-year-old Ryan Lomonaco, the youngest student to enroll and graduate in the history of the College, at Commencement on Saturday, May 3. Lomonaco enrolled at Aquinas at age 14, and has pursued a bachelor's degree in computer information systems, along with minors in political science and business. Following graduation, he plans to pursue an advance degree in computer science at Western Michigan University and work as a computer programmer.

"It's taken a bit of adjusting," says Lomonaco of the non-traditional route he's charted through academia. "To some extent it's become a routine," he said. "But this being the last semester, every so often you stop and say, 'Wow.'"

"My parents had me tested when I was three and four," said Lomonaco. "I was able to read the newspaper at age three, and I could multiply two and three-digit numbers by that age as well." By age six, Lomonaco had started "fifth grade courses and pre-algebra." By nine, he had started taking high school classes, and at ten-years old, the lifelong resident of Wyoming, Michigan, was enrolled at Catholic Central High School as a full-time student.

"I walked into my first class at the high school and the other students thought I was lost," he said. Despite the occasional social challenges, Lomonaco says that he never felt "pressured by anybody at all, really." After graduating from Catholic Central, Lomonaco came to Aquinas College at age 14 – without a driver's license and unable to vote but certainly ready to hold his own.

"The word 'gifted' is loaded," says Lomonaco. "I'm absolutely horrible at basketball and a whole bunch of other things I'm sure I could name if I had more time." Despite his early abilities in newspaper reading, Lomonaco humorously admits he can "never finish a crossword."