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Early Riser

October 26, 2011

Mozart composed his first symphony when he was eight. Picasso began showing promise as an artist at 10.

In comparison, Angela Lipsman was a bit of a late bloomer. She didn’t enroll at BMCC until she turned 11.

After completing fifth grade at P.S. 187 in Washington Heights in 1999, Angela  became a student at BMCC. “My dad had met Makea McDonald, who was then assistant to the vice president for student affairs, and broached the idea of enrolling me in summer courses,” she says. “With Ms. McDonald’s her help and support, I began classes on July 20.” It was nine days after Angela’s 11th birthday.

Education in the fast lane

Over the next five years, Angela completed 29 courses in a wide range of disciplines, from music and art to psychology and computers, rarely falling short of an A. She went on to complete her Associate's Degree and earn Bachelor's and Master's at Excelsior College, also taking courses at FIT, City College and Touro College—all by the time she was 16. 

Without breaking stride, she then earned a law degree at CUNY Law School, graduating last May with a 3.91 GPA. At 23, she was the youngest graduate in the school’s history.

By beginning her BMCC coursework in the summer, Angela was able to ease into college life—in a manner of speaking. That fall saw her continuing to take college courses while also attending PS 187 as a sixth-grader.

 “I went to school everyday, like everyone else,” she says. “But two evenings a week I took the subway downtown to Chambers Street to attend classes at BMCC.”  When she got home, she’d first tackle her sixth-grade homework.

“That was the most challenging part,” she admits. “But somehow I was able to get enough sleep and wake up refreshed the next day, ready to do it all over again.”

A key factor in Angela ’s success at BMCC was the help and encouragement of her teachers and classmates. “Everyone was incredibly welcoming,” she says. “My professors treated me like a normal student, without ever condescending to me or setting low expectations.  I was fortunate enough to have mostly excellent teachers, a good support network at home, and the willingness of administrators to give ‘a kid’ a chance to show what she could do.”

Among Angela’s biggest champions and advocates was her father, Daniel Lipsman. “The atmosphere at BMCC was amazing,” he says. “Angela never once felt out of place.”

Next steps

This past summer, Angela took the New York and New Jersey bar exams. She expects to hear the results in mid-November. She’s hoping to go into prosecution and has applied for positions as an assistant district attorney. 

“I don’t see myself spending my days chained to a corporate office,” she says.  “I’d like to use my skills to help people and feel I can best do this as an ADA.”

Will the accelerated pace at which Angela moved through her education give her an edge in what is an extremely competitive job market? 

“I don’t think so,” she says. “I’ll be looked at on my merits, just like everyone else.” But she is grateful for the opportunity to have gotten her college career off to such an early start.

“People here had enough faith in me to let me start on a path at BMCC at the age of 11,” she says. “In large measure, that resulted in my being where I am today.”


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  • Takes courses at night while attending grade school by day
  • Earns Bachelors and Masters degrees before she is 17
  • At 23, the youngest graduate in the history of CUNY Law School

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