Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out Doogie Howser...Autum's Coming!

With all the stressful news these days about the plight of our youth and the downfall of education, it is nice to hear a wonder story.

Autum Ashante will walk onto the campus of the University of Connecticut. She will attend orientation, gather all her books from the bookstore and pour over her class schedule. She may have to ask for directions to lecture hall and she may even gain the "Freshman 15" (or in my case it was the "Freshman 25") from an overabundance of late-night pizza. As a matter of fact, the only difference between Autum and the other freshmen will be that she is ONLY 13.

The Pelham Parkway teen has been accepted at the University of Connecticut, where she plans to study medicine. "I know it's going to be hard, but I'm excited," she said. Autum will move to Norwalk, Conn., with her father, Batin Ashante, later this summer, to be close to UConn. "What she's doing is groundbreaking but this is not about vanity," he said. "It's about setting the tone for other black and Latino children who will come behind her. They're always being told they are underachievers. We want to show this can be done."

She could walk at 10 months old; she could read at age 2 and by the time she was 3, she was writing and performing poetry. By age 8, she reportedly had an IQ of 149 (the average college graduate has an IQ score of 115).

Ashante, a single father, chose to home-school his daughter and sought out retired teachers from the community to help tutor her. Autum, who speaks Arabic, Swahili and Spanish, has never set foot in a classroom, but that's all right with her.

"My dad always says 'the world is a classroom.' I got to go places and do different things, so it never really is boring," she said.

As a mother, I definitely feel the burn that society projects to make my kid a prodigy. We have everything from Your Baby Can Read to Baby Einstein in my house. Anything to get that edge over the other students when NuNu goes into grammer school. But I have to admit, I have learned a lot about life by my social environment. The jury is still out as to whether a completely home schooled book immersed education is the best for a productive well rounded person in society. Not to say I'm not proud of little Autum. I just wonder how she will perform socially when she enters University of Connecticut. I wish her the best.

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