Mattias who? Did what?!

On the surface, Mattias Gassman is a regular teenager. In his free time he likes to read, bike, and play computer games. He is a long-time Boy Scout, and just finished his Eagle Scout Project last summer. However, what sets him apart is that he is a senior and will graduate in May – from ISU. Gassman took his first class at ISU when he was 11 years old, an age when most children are just finishing up elementary school. It all started when he got a scholarship from OPPTAG (Office of Precollegiate Programs for Talented and Gifted), a program at ISU whose goal is to give exceptional students opportunities to expand their education. He chose to use it to take a three-credit class, Latin 101, for free. This marked the start of his interest in Classics. At the age of 14, Gassman became a full-time student at ISU. Before then, his education consisted of primarily homeschooling. He was mostly taught by his mom, as were his older sister and two younger brothers. “One great advantage of being homeschooled is that I was able to study whatever subject I wanted whenever I wanted,” Gassman said. “There was no strict schedule, and as a result I could spend my time more efficiently.” Gassman is generally glad he was homeschooled, but admits that sometimes he wonders if it would have been different had he gone to public school instead. It is no question that being homeschooled benefited Gassman academically; in middle school he qualified for and participated in both the National Geographic Bee and the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which are, needless to say, amazing achievements. “Working hard was necessary for my success, but I don’t think it was the primary reason,” Gassman said. “To a large extent, it resulted from a native ability to do well. My parents were also a big factor, since they made sure I stuck to what I started and figured out what sorts of opportunities there were for me.” Since the bees in middle school, Gassman hasn’t participated in any major academic competitions. He is busy with studying and other activities, typical of an ISU student. At ISU, Gassman has taken a variety of different classes, from languages like Latin, Greek, and German, to piano, and even an Honors class on Tolkien’s Mythology. He is getting a double degree in Biophysics and Interdisciplinary Studies (since ISU doesn’t offer a degree in classics). He is currently applying to graduate schools ranging from Harvard to the University of Iowa. As for now, Gassman is keeping his future open. He has not really thought about where he will end up after graduate school. “It seems likely that I’ll be a Classics professor at some point,” he said, “but I don’t know if that’s my goal or not. I still have a lot of time to decide.”