Mom, 11-year-old daughter team up as DSU classmates

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She’s the youngest student at Dixie State University, and she already has plans to be an evil overlord and rule the world one day.

“She’s accepting applications for minions,” said Asia Lemmon, a sophomore psychology major from New York City and mother of Catalina “Catty” Lemmon. 

Catty, a freshman general education major from St. George, is an 11-year-old prodigy who is enrolled full-time at DSU and taking classes in trigonometry, English and art. She said the reason she started attending DSU was an accident. 

“The school I was supposed to attend didn’t open on schedule,” Catty said. “Luckily, I had already taken my SATs when I was 10, and they were good enough to get me into (DSU).”

Asia Lemmon said there wasn’t another school fit for Catty, who had already gotten an A in a college pre-calculus class over the summer and scored a perfect grade on DSU’s math placement test.

“So I took her to school with me,” Asia Lemmon said. 

Catty and her mother are more than just classmates at DSU; they’re best friends, Asia Lemmon said.

“I love being able to eat lunch and study with Catty, and we text back and forth all day with funny stories to make each other laugh,” Asia Lemmon said. “It’s definitely a very special experience.”

Asia Lemmon was widowed when Catty was one and when she was pregnant with Catty’s younger brother, she said. Since then, she said she has stayed home 24/7 to homeschool Catty and Catty’s brother. Catty was rejected from entering kindergarten for being too young at age four, so Asia Lemmon said she had to wage an “endless war” to keep Catty academically challenged. She said she homeschooled Catty for 10 years. 

“By the end of that 10 years, I was about to go stark raving mad if I didn’t start doing something more mentally challenging for myself,” Asia Lemmon said. “I’m grateful I was able to homeschool my kids the way I did, but now I have to go back to school so I can keep up with them.”

While Catty and her brother are brilliant, Asia Lemmon said they are “twice-exceptional,” which means they are gifted in some areas and delayed in others. Catty struggles with anxiety and her brother is autistic and has ADHD, Asia Lemmon said.

“It’s not an easy task meeting the needs of kids who are outside the norm in so many different ways,” Asia Lemmon said. 

Asia Lemmon said her goal is to help other “twice-exceptional” children after she graduates with her psychology degree. 

“There are very few professionals trained specifically in helping [‘twice-exceptional’] children,” Asia Lemmon said. 

Catty said the biggest challenge for her so far in college is not her anxiety but writing a English paper on feminism, because feminism “is a hard topic for me to relate to as an eleven-year-old.” She said people don’t treat her any differently than older students, and many of her classmates don’t realize how young she actually is.  

Catty said she plans to go as far as she can in math at DSU and will see what happens when she graduates. 

“I don’t have plans for what happens after college, because even after I graduate, I’ll still be too young to drive or get a job,” Catty said.