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At 17 years old, local teen becomes youngest student to graduate USF this semester

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Posted at 11:11 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 09:02:44-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A teen becomes the youngest student to graduate from the University of South Florida this semester.

Saefallah Mohamed, 17, will graduate on Saturday. He will earn two degrees in biomedical sciences and public health.

Mohamed said it was always about challenging himself.

"Obviously, I’m very proud that I did accomplish this by 17 years old, but really it was just about challenging myself and keeping myself busy," he said.

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Mohamed joked he still needs to get a driver's license.

"I was going to get it in March of last year and then COVID happened so I still don't have one, still have my permit so I'm either being dropped off by my mom or being dropped off by one of my brothers," he said.

Mohamed said he got ahead by taking extra online classes and dual-enrollment classes. He enrolled at USF at the age of 14.

"I skipped 6th grade and then high school instead of four years, I did it in two years and then I did my undergrad in three years," he said.

Mohamed will be the youngest graduate this semester at USF's first in-person graduation since the COVID-19 pandemic. A USF spokesperson said the youngest student to ever graduate was a 16-year-old in 2019.

A strong work ethic runs in Mohamed's family. His mom went back to school after raising a family. His three brothers also graduated early from USF.

"We're always trying to challenge ourselves and challenge each other, always pushing each other to do better and part of that is brotherly competition, part of that is just wanting to see each other do better," said Mohamed.

Mohamed said he is looking forward to graduating in person. Safety precautions will be enforced.

"I’m glad they’re taking precautions where they’re socially distancing and we have to wear masks," he said.

Mohamed plans to enter a master's program at USF and someday become a doctor.

"Wanting to get ahead or wanting to succeed doesn't necessarily get in the way of doing extracurriculars or having fun. I made sure. My mom also made sure that we were always involved in Boy Scouts or sailing. Personally, some hobbies of mine are playing music. I play the piano or photography. Make sure you always have time for yourself and have time to pursue those hobbies of yours," said Mohamed.

"I think it's important for people to realize that time is very valuable. I like to say the two most valuable resources we have are our health and our time," he said.