Meet the new 13-year-old university student from Montreal


Haneen Yousef has a habit of skipping classes. Now she is about to make the leap to higher education.

The 13-year-old from Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, just completed grades 9-11 online in less than a year. This fall, she will be undertaking a BA in English Literature at Concordia University.

“I have always been very advanced [emotionally]so I’ve always found myself better with more adult crowds,” Haneen said. “I’m really excited for this environment and for the studies I’m going to undertake.”

She chose Concordia, attracted by its academic and professional writing programs. Her two older siblings and her mother, Doaa Abou Sharbin, are currently studying there, which made her choice easier, she said.

Unfazed by the thought of not having relationships with older classmates or not being able to legally attend certain orientation week socials, Haneen says she will “fit in just fine.”

“I know since I was still young there are limits, but I don’t think it will really affect me that much,” she said. “I’m more here for studies and making friends, more than those things that I [can’t attend].”

Haneen completed her 9th, 10th and 11th grades in less than a year thanks to Blyth Academy Online, a private online high school. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

Concordia’s English department is already looking for ways to integrate Haneen into campus life, said university spokesperson Vannina Maestracci, who commented with permission from Abou Sharbin.

In an email, Maestracci said Concordia would seek mentorship support for Haneen. and ensure “taking into account [her] age, that she is informed of the course material in advance so that she can make informed decisions.”

“We look forward to welcoming Haneen to the Concordia community and helping her succeed in her studies,” Maestracci wrote.

‘Quick in everything’

Throughout her childhood, Haneen zipped through school, entering 7th grade at age 10 when the family lived in Ohio. But his first moments of life were trying.

The umbilical cord was wrapped three times around Haneen’s neck, said Abu Sharbin, who gave birth to her prematurely.

“She made it, so I immediately thought ‘she’s a fighter,'” said her mother, who is studying finance at Concordia. “She loves life and she loves doing things and she wants to experience everything at once. And she’s so quick at everything.”

A mother and her daughter embrace while posing for a photo.
Doaa Abou Sharbin says her daughter has been “a fighter” since the day she was born. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

Haneen’s first-grade teachers suggested she get her IQ tested, but her mother waited until Haneen was nine to follow because she wanted her daughter to ‘live a normal life’ and not ‘make her feel different. “. Since then, Haneen has been part of Mensa (a non-profit organization for people who score in the 98th percentile on standard IQ tests).

“She is always educating herself, learning new hobbies, investing her time in something that she thinks will add to her life, her fun and her brain,” Abu said. Sharbin. “I’m her mother…but I’m still learning from her.”

Stay busy

Haneen developed an interest in writing stories after her sister, Zainah Yousef, gave her science fiction stories that she wrote. Now the teenager is writing a book.

“I loved the way she wrote and…the love I found for English kind of fuels me,” Haneen said.

A teenage girl holds one of her favorite Xbox 360 video games.
Haneen’s favorite video games include Call of Duty, Assasin’s Creed, and Need for Speed ​​Heat. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

Besides reading voraciously and expanding her graphic design service, Lollipop Designs Corner, Haneen wouldn’t pass up a chance to play her favorite new video game, Wanderduring his summer break.

“I love cats and I have [the game] recently,” she said. “I can’t have a cat due to allergies, so this is the closest thing to it.”

In the fall, Haneen says she wants to see her classmates “stand up for themselves and believe in themselves,” even when she may seem weird.

“I think I’m going to be ready and fine with all of them,” she said. “It’s going to be a good environment.”


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