At 14 years of age, she’s not old enough to drive and she’s too young to vote. She’d like to go to law school and get a PhD in psychology, then join the FBI as a special agent—lofty goals for the average teenager.
But if you talk with Aurora Dziadel of Griswold, you will soon discover she is well on her way to attaining those goals. You will also be amazed at what she has already achieved.
That’s because Aurora started early. After attending Griswold Middle School and two years of homeschooling, she enrolled at Quinebaug Valley Community College at the tender age of 11. On May 24 she will join her much older classmates at the college’s 46th commencement, graduating summa cum laude with an associate’s degree in liberal arts and sciences.
If that isn’t remarkable enough, Aurora was selected to be the student speaker and will address the graduates and audience members.
“I will be sharing a message of acceptance,” she explained. “Throughout my time at QVCC, I have encountered acceptance from every person at the college, whether it be professors, advisors, or students. I wanted to share my experience with others and explain how much that has meant to me,” she added. “I choose QVCC because of this strong sense of community and the acceptance that was given to me.”
While Aurora admits it was a difficult transition from homeschool to college, especially due to her own shyness, she soon found both the students and professors to be welcoming. “I quickly felt at home,” she said.
It is clear that QVCC has been a good fit for Aurora. “I have immensely enjoyed taking classes in every subject, from math to science to Spanish to Humanities,” she noted. “I learned so much in all of my classes, not just about the subject at hand but life lessons as well.” Not only was she named to the dean’s list for four straight semesters, Aurora was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for community and two-year colleges. This spring, after less than a year of Spanish, she won 3rd prize in the Julius Sokenu Poetry Awards in the Spanish non-heritage speakers category.
When she’s not at the college, Aurora trains and competes at Thames Valley Academy of Gymnastics from December through May. She also enjoys swimming and biking, listening to music, and reading novels.
In the fall she will be transferring to either Salve Regina University in Newport, where her grandparents live, or to the University of Connecticut—she is weighing the pros and cons of each school. No matter which college she chooses, Aurora knows she will probably be the youngest student in the junior class, “but I’m used to that,” she laughed.
Her parents will continue to provide transportation until she gets her driver’s license. But she may have her bachelor’s degree and be heading to graduate school before she can take her driving test.