Sophomore to be triple threat in 2016

October 7, 2013

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

ASU sophomore Kimberly Koerth and Christopher Callahan, dean of ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, have developed a sort of comedic patter over the past few semesters. Download Full Image

“Dean Callahan will be walking on campus with someone and then he’ll stop and say, ‘Ooh, Kimberly Koerth. Stop right there! May I brag about you to my friend here?’ I usually shrug my shoulders and reply, ‘Sure, how can I say no?’”

The high-achieving Koerth certainly has a lot to brag about. She skipped a grade in elementary school and started taking classes at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Ariz., at age 12; four years later she graduated from Casa Verde High School in Casa Grande, Ariz., and collected an associate of arts degree at age 15 – maintaining a 4.0 GPA at both institutions.

“Most people are of the belief that fun or a social life must be sacrificed in order to succeed in academics,” Koerth said. “And to that I say books and academics are fun, too.”

The National Merit Scholar received international attention when she obtained her high school diploma and associate of arts degree at the same time, which prompted feature stories in The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, and Good Morning America.

Koerth applied to Columbia University in New York and the University of Arizona in Tucson, but ultimately chose ASU because of the Cronkite School’s national reputation and strong programming at Barrett, the Honors College. She was admitted in 2012 to ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she is on track to receive three degrees. Koerth will graduate in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and English, and a master’s degree in mass communication.

The 17-year-old says she particularly enjoys ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus for its intimacy, urban flavor and academic opportunities.

“The entire college experience has been wonderful in terms of extracurricular activities and rooting for all the sports teams, but there’s still a strong emphasis on academics and research opportunities,” Koerth said. “I’ve made friends, too. Let’s just say I’m not lonely.”

In addition to taking 20 credit hours in the summer and 18 credit hours this semester, Koerth is making sure to carve out time for extracurricular activities that round her out as a human being. Koerth serves as the chief copy editor for the Downtown Devil, an online publication run by ASU students. She is also an intern for the Cronkite Journal, a secretary for Phoenexus – a Downtown Phoenix collaborative devoted to creative writing – and an assistant community director for BLAST’D, a Barrett Honors community service group. In her spare time she participates in poetry slams around downtown, partakes in First Fridays in Phoenix and usually attends concerts with her dad on weekends. Koerth insists sleep factors in somewhere, but it’s not high on the priority list.

“I definitely want to experience everything the university has to offer and I’m doing it at a faster pace than most,” Koerth said. “I wouldn’t say there’s a sense of urgency because I’m doing what I like to do.”

Koerth envisions her professional life in three acts: as a reporter, copy editor and a teacher.

“Copy editing is what I really love to do because I’m a perfectionist,” Koerth said. “I’ll even critique some of my friends' emails and say to myself, ‘That comma is in the wrong place and this word doesn’t mean what you think it does.’ I want to be the person in the newsroom who sees those things and fixes them.”

Ultimately, the young scholar sees herself in a college or university setting. But that means obtaining a fourth degree, which Koerth will commence upon graduation. She plans to enroll in the Teach for America program in 2016 to get her master's in English or literature.

“That degree would enable me to teach at a university or community college in a few years,” Koerth said. “That may or may not change but I’m confident I’ll have many choices when I’m ready to start my career.”

Reporter , ASU Now


New study: Young credit card users are more responsible

October 7, 2013

If you think young people don’t know how to manage money and pay down their credit cards, then you should think again. A new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond shows young borrowers – 18 to 25 years old – are among the least likely credit card users to have a serious default on their cards. Not only that, they’re also more likely to be good credit risks later in life.

“Young credit card users actually default less than middle-age borrowers,” says Andra Ghent, assistant professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Also, those who choose to get credit cards early in life are more likely to learn from any minor defaults and move on, avoiding major credit card problems in the future. Plus, they’re more likely to be able to get a mortgage and become a homeowner at a young age.” Andra Ghent Download Full Image

The new research by Ghent, as well as Peter Debbaut and Marianna Kudlyak of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, is now a Federal Reserve working paper. In it, the researchers analyzed consumer data from the New York Federal Reserve Bank Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax to determine whether young borrowers are worse credit risks than others and to estimate the effect of individuals choosing to get a credit card at a young age.

The results demonstrate that part of the Credit Card Act of 2009 may not have been necessary. The act made it illegal to issue a credit card to individuals under 21 unless the person has a cosigner or submits financial information indicating an independent means of repaying the debt. It also includes a provision banning companies from recruiting credit card users within 1,000 feet of any college campus or at college events.

“Letting students apply for credit cards may actually make sense,” says Ghent. “These students are the people who want credit, need to build up a good credit history and have a steeply sloped income profile. If they don’t have a student loan, then a credit card may be the only way they can establish a decent credit history.”

The researchers found that while people in their early 20s are more likely to experience minor delinquencies (30 or 60 days past due), they are much less likely to experience serious delinquency (90 days or more past due). In fact, someone age 40 to 44 is 12 percentage points more likely to have a serious delinquency than a 19-year-old.

However, the Credit Card Act of 2009 has clearly had an impact on how many young people are getting credit cards. Individuals under 21 are 18 percent less likely to get a credit card following passage of the act, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“You can’t learn by just watching credit card use,” adds Ghent. “You have to get a card, pay it down every 30 days, and experience, in order to learn. It’s also hard to get a mortgage if you can’t get a credit card to build up your credit history.”

The full study is available at