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Hunter College grad, single mom launching true potential

This story is for parents raising that "if only" child.

You know, the child you just know could live a life on easy street "if only" they tried harder, wanted to be successful, paid more attention in class - or went to class at all.

In Amy Colon's case, add "hadn't gotten pregnant at 17."

Thing is, sometimes the "if only" children decide they'd rather ask, "Why not?"

In Colon's case, all of it amounts to a dream deferred but soon to be realized.

Two weeks ago, Colon graduated from Hunter College. Next week, she, her daughter, Gabrielle, 10, and Gabrielle's father, Jorge Gonzalez, will head south.

Colon - born, bred and until next week a resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn - will begin studies toward a doctorate in astrophysics at the University Of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

It's been a wild couple of years. While at Hunter, Colon took part in studies at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and Harvard University.

For much of the same time, she also worked as a dispatcher at a Williamsburg car service.

"My friends ask me, 'What are you going to do with a doctorate in astrophysics?' I say, 'What can't I do with it!?'" Colon said.

Colon liked learning - "I was always a big nerd" is how she puts it. Saturday morning cartoons didn't interest her as much as "Sesame Street," "The Electric Company" and "Math Man," all PBS programs she would watch with her father, Francisco.

Colon went to Public School 31 - where Gabrielle is now a student - and Junior High School 126. She was in John Jay High School when the rebel came out and shut learning down.

Well, kinda.

"I would cut class and go to the school library and read Shakespeare," she said. "I'd sit in the library reading the assignments and even more than I was asked to read. I just wouldn't go to class."

Colon, by her own admission, fit the "if only" profile while attending classes at John Jay High School's Annex building.

"I wasn't stupid, but I did stupid things," she said. "My teachers hated me! They knew I was smart but wasn't even trying."

Same thing at home. She kind of obeyed the rules set down by her bookkeeper mom, Diannette.

"I would be home by curfew, but the things I did until curfew! Oh boy!" Colon said. "I put my mother through hell. I have no idea why she put up with me."

Colon thinks she acted the way she did out of teen anxiety - she was a white Puerto Rican in a student body dominated by African-Americans and others of darker hue.

"I was light-skinned with hazel eyes," she said. "I stuck out. I was trying to fit in."