MOTHER AND SON GRADUATE FAU ON THE SAME DAY
by BRITTANY SYLVESTRI | Thursday, May 05, 2022
Eagles are majestic birds with powerful vision; are fearless and tenacious; are high flyers; and they nurture their young. Owls are wise, thorough, detail-oriented, sequential, analytical, methodical and orderly, and most importantly, the proud mascot of Florida Atlantic University.
But what do these two birds really have in common? Meet Christine and Aden Eagle. This mother and son both will graduate on Thursday, May 5 from FAU.
Christine, 53, will receive a Master of Science in Health Administration in the 1 p.m. ceremony. At just 17 years old, Aden will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in data analytics and a perfect 4.0 GPA in the 5 p.m. ceremony, eight days prior to receiving his high school diploma from FAU High School.
“Aden was my inspiration to get through graduate school,” said Christine. “We would proofread each other’s essays, and he constantly challenged me to excel in my courses. We have such a better understanding of each other because of this experience.”
It all started when Aden achieved an impressive score in the Duke Talent Search ACT program. This caught the eye of FAU High, and they invited him to join the school’s dual-enrollment program. At the time, Aden and his parents lived in Sebring, but when the opportunity presented itself, his parents knew Aden could not pass it up.
Once Aden and Christine, along with her husband of 30 years, William, settled in Boca Raton, Christine started working in food and nutrition services at HCA Florida JFK North Hospital. She wanted to move into a leadership role and, inspired by her son’s perseverance and drive, decided to apply to the master’s in health administration program at FAU’s College of Business.
“I was excited when my mom told me she was going back to school,” said Aden. “I was very proud of her.”
Aden’s goals and aspirations have led him to the field of artificial intelligence. As a Magar fellow at the Max Planck Academy at FAU’s John D. MacArthur campus in Jupiter, he was one of a few FAU High students immersed in neuroscience classes at Max Planck Florida Institute (MPFI) working in a lab with its scientists. Aden spent his days predicting the activity of individual neurons to understand how the brain keeps track of memories to help with AI technology.
The self-taught guitar player also spent his free time as secretary of FAU’s Google Developers Club and president of the Science Olympiad Club at FAU High. These experiences led to great daily conversations between Christine and Aden as she drove him to and from school. They kept each other motivated as they tackled assignments and classes.
“My time at FAU has been surprising in the best way possible,” said Aden. “I’ve had so many amazing opportunities. I’ve been allowed the freedom to be independent and work through things on my own. It wasn’t just about getting my degree; it was so much more than that.”
Aden’s next chapter will lead him to Carnegie Mellon, where he will begin the neural computation Ph.D. program in the fall. His next goal: to be a computational neuroscientist and work at Google as a research scientist to understand how the brain works and make better tools for AI.
“It will be extremely difficult when Aden leaves in the fall, similar to the first day I dropped him off at daycare,” Christine said. “But I am very excited and proud of him. It’s going to be a hard transition and I will miss having him so close.”