Seventeen-year-old junior college graduate wants to become doctor

RENO - Aaron Centric isn't your typical 17-year-old high school drop out.

The young concert pianist who wants to be a doctor graduates from Truckee Meadows Community College on Friday with a two-year associate's of science degree.

Now a member of the international academic honor society Phi Theta Kappa, Centric was 15 when he enrolled at the college in the fall of 1998 after spending his freshman year at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno.

''I did a little bit of high school but decided to go to college instead,'' Centric said.

''Academically, I was doing quite well. I just didn't feel another three years would be productive,'' he said.

Centric admits it was a ''little intimidating'' when he arrived on the Truckee Meadows campus.

But the two-year school includes a large number of nontraditional students - the average student age is 33 - so Centric said he ''didn't have a problem fitting in.

''Typically, people think I'm around 22. I don't think it's because of physical appearance, but attitude,'' he said.

''I don't try to keep it a secret but I don't outwardly announce it either,'' he said.

''Unless you are familiar with the person, a lot of times they look down at you because of age.''

Centric is the youngest student to graduate from Truckee Meadows Community College since it opened in 1971, school spokesman John Curtis said. Three 18-year-olds have graduated from the college over the years, he said.

The typical student takes a class load of seven hours per semester, but Centric took six, 19, 21 and 17 hours in his four semesters.

''That's incredible,'' Curtis said.

A native of Sierra Vista, Ariz., Centric's father got a job in Reno and the family moved here in 1992. Centric said he was at the head of his class through elementary and middle schools.

''I don't remember any drawbacks. It always worked out fairly well academically and socially,'' he said.

Centric played a concerto with the Carson City Symphony in February and is scheduled to perform in Reno's annual summer arts festival, Uptown, Downtown Artown. He recently claimed second place in a piano competition at Albertson College in Idaho.

Centric is enrolling at the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall, where he will major in biology, with minor studies in music and philosophy.

Philosophy courses he took at Truckee Meadows were among his favorites, including Survey of Existentialism and a Study of Hinduism.

''I just like to see how other people think and explore their thinking and see if I can apply it to my own,'' he said. ''I like to read a lot - anything and everything.''

His goal is medical school and to become a doctor.

''I've always enjoyed sciences. Applying sciences to real life situations is more productive than anything,'' Centric said.

''I've followed doctors around in hospitals and observed real-life applications of people who graduate from medical school. It looks like a lot of fun and it would be great to help people out like that,'' he said.

Centric also has a sense of humor. He said he might be able to apply some branches of philosophy - such as logic - to a medical career. But others might not work so well.

''Certain things, like existentialism, might not be looked at too well by patients if you told them, 'You're going to die any way, so why are you here?'''


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