ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Caps off to the youngest graduate in Siena College history. One of the hundreds of graduates to walk across the stage of MVP Arena Sunday morning was Elham Malik, who received her diploma at just 17-years-old.
“Kind of overwhelming, but I’m really really excited,” Malik said when asked what it felt like to become the youngest Siena grad.
Malik graduated with cum laude honors, finishing her psychology degree in just three years. She enrolled as a freshman at the college at only 14-years-old, “Whenever I asked for help that I needed, I would receive it. I never really felt like I was being left out or that there wasn’t a space for me.”
She was able to get to the collegiate level so young after testing out of grades twice, as well as taking extra courses during high school. Her three years in college included a bit of everything, normalcy, COVID, and a return to campus.
“My initial experience was really, really great. I kinda had that beginning Siena experience and then COVID happened, and I got to see us go online, this year I got to see us shift out of that. I feel like I’ve gotten kind of the whole experience in that way,” she explained.
Outside the classroom, Malik served as the president of the Muslim Student Association. She also co-emceed the annual Scholarship and Endowed Programs Appreciation Dinner.
After those three years filled with achievements, the historic moment finally came, with Malik walking across the stage of a packed MVP Arena, “I’m really excited that my family can come and that everyone that has helped through this journey is able to make it today.”
With a diploma in hand, Siena’s youngest graduate will remain on campus for another year, doing service as an AmeriCorps VISTA fellow.
“I grew up doing a lot of direct services, volunteering at soup kitchens, and Siena gave me a whole new perspective and understanding of it,” Malik said.
After that, she’ll continue on to graduate school. While she’s not sure what exact career she wants to pursue, she does know she wants to do something that will involve her passion for service, a passion that was one of the main reasons she chose to attend Siena in the first place.