Age 16 and graduating
City College can soon list 16-year-old Ashley Mittelman among its alumni.
Mittelman graduated high school with the class of 2011 from Mount Shasta High School in what normally would have been her sophomore year. She achieved this feat by attending College of the Siskiyous, Mount Shasta’s local community college, full time at night after her high school classes.
Moving to San Diego has not slowed her down either. She has been accepted on full scholarships to UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD. She will stick with one school this time around, going for a doctorate of pharmacy at UCSD. Psychology, her first choice of major, will be her minor. Mittelman changed her major when she realized being a children’s counselor would not pay as well as going into the pharmaceutical industry.
Mittelman looks equally wise to the grades she has pulled her whole life. She carries herself and speaks about the world as if she is already 22, the age she will be when she plans to finish her 6-year doctorate degree.
Watching her mother work two full-time jobs when she was a child is what inspired her to want to go to college.
“I didn’t want to put my kids through that one day,” said Mittelman, “where I couldn’t even see them.”
According to Mittelman, many people from Mount Shasta never leave the area and very few go on to further their education after high school. The drug culture in the small city of a little more than 3,000 people also kept her away from people her own age in her hometown.
“I saw that around me. People into drugs. I didn’t want to be a part of that,” she said.
The combination of wanting to escape the small town she grew up in with wanting to be the first college graduate in her family was enough to keep pushing her no matter how heavy the workload got.
Both of her parents are immigrants to the United States., her mother from Peru and her father from Holland. The teen speaks fluently in English, Spanish, German and is trying to learn French.
“I taught myself German,” Mittelman said matter-of-factly, as if learning foreign languages is as easy as her early graduation from City College.
“I like to do a lot of work. I do everything quickly and I just like to always have something to do,” Mittelman said.
That work ethic and a maturity level beyond her physical age is what Rosemarie Robinson, Mittelman’s first counselor at City, spoke about in an e-mail to “City Times.”
“I remember the 16-year-old who sat in my office last summer 2011, who spoke to me. Her mom did not do the talking. Ashley spoke to me about what she had accomplished during her high school years,” said Robinson.
She also said that Mittelman is an inspiration and a positive role model in a world sometimes lacking in positive influences.
“I watch the news daily. The media shows every day the many destructive things children do. How often do you or I hear about children 16 years old being a success? How often do we hear about academic success?”
Along with her academic success, transfer to UCSD and $20,000 scholarship, Mittelman was president of the Future Leader club at City and participated in numerous activities outside of her regular class work.
Robinson gives Mittelman credit for locating sponsors and vendors for City’s student relaxation and stress event.
Handling stress certainly is something Mittelman knows about. She also warned others who might emulate her achievements to not bite off more than they chew.
“I gave up my life to do what I did,” Mittelman said unsympathetically regarding the years she would regularly be in classes twelve hours a day, five days a week.
“But I don’t regret it.”