GOSHEN — Every college graduate has a story behind his or her accomplishment. And here’s Mikol Aspinwall: He’s 17 and is the youngest known person to graduate from Goshen College after collecting his bachelor’s degree this week.
“This journey has been very special,” said Aspinwall, who graduated with a computer science degree and marketing minor. “I’m extremely blessed and can’t help but thank all those who’ve helped me to get here.”
The Phoenix native is no stranger to being ahead of his age group. He began attending Goshen College at age 13 after graduating from Herberger Young Scholars Academy.
Even before that, Aspinwall had accomplishments comparable to those much older than him – he built his first computer at the age of 5 with his dad and helped his mother streamline her eBay business. He began attending high school at age 9 and audited classes at Arizona State University before moving to Goshen.
After high school, Aspinwall said his first college choice was to attend the University of Notre Dame. He also considered an offer from Holy Cross College but decided it wasn’t for him.
He decided to attend Goshen College under the advisement of his uncle Felipe Moreno, a lawyer and school board member in Goshen.
This was a decision Aspinwall didn’t regret. He was attracted to Goshen College for the opportunity to be himself and to find his calling without undue expectations, despite his genius-level IQ.
“I loved Goshen College,” he said. “It’s a great school and a great community. … They made me feel right at home.”
Upon entering college, Aspinwall said he kept his age discreet to help him settle into the new lifestyle.
“I just wanted to be seen as a regular student, not a ‘that 13-year-old,’” he said.
While at Goshen College, Aspinwall designed a walking-tour app for the Goshen Historical Society that includes Goshen’s historic points of interest downtown. He’s currently working with two other Goshen College seniors on a drink venture, which is seed-funded and hopes to “bring local artists together with the local community through sparkling water with an all-natural sweet twist.”
“In college, the most important thing I’ve learned is how to work really well with people and learn how to get the best out of other people in order to meet common goals,” he said in a statement. “I’ve also learned a lot about how important other people can be and that vocation isn’t all there is to life.”
Jeanette Shown, associate professor of computer science and information technology at Goshen College, who’s known Aspinwall his entire GC tenure, said Aspinwall is very bright, no comparison.
Despite his age difference, she said, she treated him like the rest of her students, which didn’t hinder him at all.
“He has a good character and a solid soul,” she said. “He’s always interested in trying new things and I’m just really excited about where he’s going to go from here.”
Even with all his early accomplishments, Aspinwall says this is only the beginning for him.
Next on his agenda is to attend graduate school. He isn’t sure what school he’s attending yet, but said he’s hoping to go to either the University of Notre Dame, the University of Washington or the California Institute of Technology to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science.
“I still have a long road ahead of me and it doesn’t stop here,” he said. “This is just a new journey and my goal is to find out where I’m going next and how I can help the world.”