Twelve credits of trigonometry, art, information literacy, and music are no match for Catalina “Catty” Lemmon, an 11-year-old who not only takes college classes, but also excels in them.
Catty didn’t expect to enroll in classes at Dixie State University(DSU) this fall, but her mother, Asia Lemmon, knew she’d be able to handle it after they took an extremely accelerated 8-week pre-calculus class over the summer that had 16 weeks worth of material in it.
“I told her if she can do this, school is going to be so easy,” Asia said. “It’s been kind of crazy getting her needs met. We’re just trying to roll with it.”
Catty is the youngest student in DSU’s history, and she’s currently the youngest full-time college student in the state of Utah. The social aspect of school hasn’t always been easy, though.
Asia said Catty has anxiety, and it’s difficult for her to talk to people. She said her anxiety issues have “gone through the roof” this year.
Despite her anxiety, though, Catty still got an A in pre-calculus, which was the highest grade in the class. Her mom finished with a B, with the help of “patient tutoring” from Catty.
“As her brain gets smarter, she realizes more places she can make a mistake,” Asia said. “The smarter she gets, the worse the anxiety gets.”
Catty became a Mensa member when she was 7 years old, with an IQ score in the 99.9th percentile. Asia is also a member of Mensa, and she said the two are a unique mother-daughter duo on campus.
Starting kindergarten at age 4 and completing grades one through eight in just four years, Catty attended private schools in the area and was tutored in the summers to advance her English and math skills. Asia said they had trouble finding a school that would accommodate her needs, so college was the only other option.
“There’s no rule book for a kid like Catty,” Asia said. “DSU has been so nice and flexible. They’ve gone out of their way to give her a scholarship, and all of her teachers are OK with having an 11-year-old in class.”
Catty earned a perfect score on her math placement test, so she could have taken trigonometry and calculus in the same semester, but Asia said she didn’t want her to get burned out on math too quickly.
Math and art are two subjects Catty is particularly talented in, and she hopes to find a career that combines the two, like motion picture computer-generated imagery.
“She’s a huge computer geek, so she wants to do something that uses her computer skills,” Asia said.
atty was raised alongside her younger brother by Asia, who was a widowed single mother. Asia said she was able to focus on her children 24/7, teaching them about negative numbers and how to read by the time they were 3 years old.
“I just kept throwing concepts at them to see what would stick,” Asia said. “She would come up with her own concepts to grasp things.”
It was a combination of natural ability and lots of hard work to get Catty to where she is today, Asia said.
All in all, Asia said she only really has one regret.
“I feel extremely guilty that she doesn’t play an instrument, because she really should,” Asia said.
“Yeah, you’re a horrible mom,” Catty joked.
When asked how she does it all, Catty had a simple answer: magic.
“I’m just another student,” Catty said. “People think I’m around 15. They don’t realize that even after I graduate college, I will still be too young to drive or get a job.”