11-year-old OC girl to become Irvine Valley College's youngest grad, surpassing her brother's record

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
11-year-old to become Irvine Valley College's youngest graduate
Athena Elling is set to graduate with an associate's degree in liberal arts at just 11 years old, surpassing her the IVC record that was set by her brother last year.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (KABC) -- An Orange County college student is setting a record as her school's youngest graduate, surpassing the record set by her brother just last year.

Athena Elling may be one of the busiest kids you'll ever meet. When she's not learning how to play the guitar in her San Juan Capistrano bedroom, the aspiring actress is fine tuning many of her other skills and hobbies.

Her biggest accomplishment so far is preparing to graduate from Irvine Valley College on Thursday.

"I'm very nervous but I'm also super excited for that," Athena said. "That's probably going to be my favorite part because then it's going to be official."

The 11-year-old will become the college's youngest graduate, earning an associate degree in liberal arts.

"I'm definitely very happy about that because that means I get to beat my brother," she said.

Elling will be breaking the school's record for youngest graduate, previously set by her 12-year-old brother Tycho last year.

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"I was always very competitive with my brother, and I chased him all the way into calculus until I figured out that I really hated math," Athena said. "By then I was already in community college and when he finished his associate degree, I wanted to do that too."

Her mom Christina Chow said whether it's making homemade soap, working on Ulta beauty campaigns or advancing ranks in taekwondo, her daughter wants to do it all and be the best at it.

"She will chase anyone into anything," Chow said. "The moment she got her black belt she was like 'I hear there's a second-degree black belt.' And then a minute after finishing her second degree, she's asking her teacher in front of me, 'How long before I can be a third-degree black belt?'"

After graduation, Elling doesn't plan to slow down and knows the sky's the limit.

"There's this line in 'Hamilton' where Alexander Hamilton is singing about how he'll never be satisfied, so I guess always keep going and try to go for the next thing," Athena said.

After she graduates cum laude on Thursday, the 11-year-old plans to pursue another associate degree in music or psychology.