Maturity, Perseverance Propel Youngest CLASS Graduate to English Degree


When Pavel Petrov began his first semester as a University of Houston student at age 16, he thought the college-level classes he took in high school had prepared him for the demands of higher education. Although he quickly realized a stiffer challenge lay ahead, he rose to the occasion and thrived alongside older peers. Now 19, Petrov will graduate as an English major after just three years of study.

“I congratulate Mr. Petrov on his remarkable achievement and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors,” said Antonio D. Tillis, dean of CLASS. “We often think of all college students following the same path, but students of all ages — Mr. Petrov chief among them — prove that there are many different routes to academic excellence.”

Petrov, who counts Mexican American Literature and Introduction to Climate Change as his favorite UH courses, says his early start as a college student helped him to mature more quickly than most.

“My age advantaged me because I excelled into my degree plan faster than others,” Petrov said. “The obstacle, though, was that I was competing with others who were much older and more mature than me. I was not on a playing field against peers of my age, and that made it more difficult. I had to mature a lot faster and study more than others because some concepts took longer to understand.”

Petrov credits the CLASS environment with easing his transition into college life and giving him the tools to find success after commencement.

The most memorable events I attended through CLASS were the career fairs,” Petrov said. “They gave me a realistic idea of the job market and what is required of CLASS students beyond graduation.”

Petrov is living proof that young college students can excel academically, but he cautions them against assuming good grades will come easily.

“My advice to younger students is to not procrastinate,” Petrov said. “Plan well ahead and adopt strict discipline in your studies. If work and play are not balanced, college will be much more difficult than it actually has to be.”