New Graduate Spotlight: Avery Cracauer

Psychology major earns A.A. at age 15

Avery Cracauer, 15, one of the youngest alumni in the history of Inver Hills Community College, started taking classes at the college when she was 12 years old.

“I was going into seventh grade,” Avery recalled. “I only took an English class that first semester as kind of a test run to see how it’d go, but I was also studying for CLEP exams at the time.”

Avery at Topsail Beach, North Carolina

Avery completed her first class at Inver Hills, English 1108, on campus.

“It went well!” she said. “It was a good starting point, I think. Being that much younger than everyone else was slightly surreal, and I was surprised that no one else really realized until I told them.”

Avery graduated with high academic honors from Inver Hills in May 2021 with her Psychology Transfer Pathway Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree. She has been home-schooled by her parents her whole life and technically won’t graduate from high school until 2023.

“The most challenging aspect of homeschooling would probably be the lack of social outlets, but I’ve been able to do other activities to combat that,” Avery said. “My favorite part of homeschooling was just the freedom it allowed—to work at my own pace and really understand what I was learning before moving on.”

Avery will be transferring to Metropolitan State University in fall 2021 to earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology. She is focusing her career goals on practicing clinical therapy with children and teenagers. Her higher education plans include earning her M.A. and various certificates that support her aim to become a therapist.

During her two years at Inver, Avery worked with Amy Zsohar, PhD, communication studies faculty and LGBT+ Club advisor. Avery served as LGBT+ Club’s vice president from fall semester 2020 until her graduation.

“When I first met Avery, I knew she would be a good student,” Amy said. “Once she joined my class and started to get engaged, she became a leader of the class, which was impressive as she was 13 years old. Every chance she had to get involved, she did. When she first joined the LGBT+ Club, she immediately stepped into a leadership role.”

Amy added that Avery became the backbone of the LGBT+ Club, especially during shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I look forward to watching Avery continue to grow her innate leadership skills and flourish as she transitions to Metro,” Amy said. “It has been my privilege to watch her coming into her own.”

Avery’s duties as LGBT+ Club vice president included event planning and essential general tasks.

“I provided assistance to other exec board members,” she said. “I also ran meetings if the president, Ronnie Wakeen [see below], was unavailable, and helped problem solve if necessary.”

Avery added that the main goal of the club is serving as a supportive and welcoming space.

“I think we have accomplished that goal,” she said. “It’s such a fun and friendly environment, and I’ve loved working with and just talking to everyone there. I personally have become so much more confident as a person just from meeting Amy, and I highly recommend LGBT+ Club to anyone who’s been thinking about joining.”

More about LGBT+ Club…

Purpose: To foster an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance of diversity in sexual orientation, to combat homophobia, discrimination, and harassment in order to create a place of support, respect, pride, and safety for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) members and their supporters.
Learn more about LGBT+ Club at Inver Hills by contacting:
Amy Zsohar, PhD
Communication Studies Faculty

Avery @Inver Hills Drive-Thru Graduation 2021 gallery

View more event photos by visiting the Inver Hills Flickr album:

Inver Hills Drive-Thru Graduation 2021

Impressive Expressive Coffee House

Ronnie and Avery

Along with Ronnie Wakeen, an Inver theatre major, Avery hosted a Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week spoken word event in November 2019 called Impressive Expressive Coffee House. The event took place in the Green Room on the college’s campus.

Students in Amy Zsohar’s Interpersonal Communication course met with the C.O.R.E. Drop In Center program manager to learn more about hunger and homelessness in Dakota County. They also toured the C.O.R.E. facility at Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley and volunteered with local organizations that work to combat food and housing insecurity.

Students also read the memoirs of individuals who had firsthand experience dealing with insufficient food and housing. They created spoken word pieces they then performed during the Impressive Expressive Coffee House event and as pop-up sessions around campus throughout Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week.

Learn more by reading “Impressive Expressive Coffee House” on Inver Hills News.

Impressive Expressive Coffee House gallery

View more event photos by visiting the Inver Hills Flickr album:

Impressive Expressive Coffee House

More about Avery…

Avery was born in Minneapolis, but she has lived in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, since she was 3 years old. Her family consists of her mom, Anita, who writes music for show choir, and her dad, Dave, who’s a software engineer.

“I also have a younger brother, Axel, who I (thankfully) tend to get along with fairly well,” Avery said. “Axel is twelve, which is chaotic on its own.”

La Jolla Beach, San Diego, California, with Kylie Renae

In her free time, Avery enjoys reading, creative writing and making music. She plays piano and ukulele and has done a fair amount of songwriting.

“So, in terms of creative writing, it used to be short stories—back when I had the patience for that,” Avery related. “Now, it’s more poetry and music. I’ve been playing piano for twelve years, which has also included music theory training. My mom is my piano teacher and her major in college was music education, so that’s been a huge focus. I play classical music, as well as whatever I’m listening to at any given moment. I’ve been teaching myself ukulele for…two years, I think? I use it for a lot of first drafts of songs. I write a lot of singer/songwriter pop-ish kind of songs because I usually end up writing when I’m sad.”

Avery is currently collaborating with her friend, Kylie Renae, on a two-person project. Kylie’s a singer and they have one song out, “Infinity.”

“We’re on Spotify under Kylie’s name,” Avery said. “We’re working on a few more songs, but it’s been going pretty slowly as we’ve both been quite busy.”

You can listen to “Infinity” on Spotify by clicking the photo below:

More about Psychology at Inver Hills…

Psychology courses at Inver Hills are ideal if you intend to continue your formal education. Take courses to build a versatile foundation for other learning goals. Our psychology faculty believes that expanding your knowledge through the discipline of psychology will enhance your personal life while helping you grow professionally with a passion for civic responsibility.

Psychology is one of the most influential and resourceful applied sciences in the modern world. As a psychology major, you’ll learn more about yourself and strengthen your talent for analysis, innovation and helping others while creating a career pathway that can lead virtually anywhere. Following is a list of some skills psychology majors are likely to gain:

  • Critical thinking
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Research skills
  • Ethical-decision making
  • Technological literacy

Psychology Transfer Pathway A.A. • 60 credits

The Psychology Transfer Pathway offers you a powerful option: the opportunity to complete an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree and transfer with junior status to a designated psychology bachelor’s degree program at one of the seven Minnesota State universities.¹ The Psychology Pathway consists of the Required Pathway Curriculum, the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC), and the Health and Physical Fitness Requirement, bringing your credit total to 60.


Avery Cracauer Q & A

What inspired you to take college courses at such a young age?

It was mostly that with the speed I had been going through work my parents would give me, they decided it would be better if I had actual teachers. They had me try 6th grade online since the online school wouldn’t let me enter a higher grade, and that was far too easy. My parents then decided to have me take the ACCUPLACER test at Inver just to see what would happen. When I tested into classes, we started talking to people in admissions about getting me registered.

What advice would you give students thinking about taking college courses while still in middle school or high school?

Work hard, but don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed! Don’t take more classes than you know you can handle, get ahead of homework when you have the time—do the best you can, but don’t let your personal health become damaged because of it.

Why did you choose psychology as your academic career path?

I chose psychology both because I think it’s very important (everyone should have the ability to go to therapy!) and because it interests me.

What did you learn in your psychology coursework that surprised or impressed you?

I’m not sure I’ve found anything surprising in the coursework. The most impressive thing I’ve taken away from psychology classes is just the sense of community and support between all these people who’ve never met each other before. Being able to relate personal experience to coursework and talk about that with others is huge to me.

What advice would you give students thinking about majoring in psychology?

I feel like psychology calls for a good balance of having empathy, but not letting it overwhelm you. That’s something I’ve struggled with in the past, but I feel I’ve gotten a good handle of it at this point.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What do you love most about songwriting?

The thing I love about all music—the ability for expression and just the feeling I get from that. Honestly, I use it as a coping mechanism a lot of the time.

What are your top goals as a musician?

My top goals as a musician are just to have fun with it. I’m currently working with Kylie [Renae], it’s a good way for us to stay connected and feel closer, as she lives in Arizona and having a project together gives us more reasons to communicate.

What person has influenced you the most in life and why?

I’ve gotten so many pieces of myself from everyone I love, but my biggest influences have always been my parents and my best friend, Anikka, who I’ve known since I was about a year old. They’ve helped push me out of my comfort zone when needed and taught me how to not get overwhelmed with things that aren’t important in the long run.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Thinking 20 years in the future is strange…I’ll likely continue down the path I’m on now and be working with teenagers in a mental health space, but the future is never certain. All I can hope is that I’m happy with my life 20 years from now.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Avery Cracauer 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Soccer
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Oh, god, I have so many—Venice, probably
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Playing keyboard in a live show as part of a band; it was the most awesome feeling.
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Go to graduate school in Europe 2) Get a house for the friends of mine in bad situations 3) Likely donate and save the rest
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Netflix’s adaption of Shadow and Bone
  6. Time period you would explore if you could time travel: Ancient Greece
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: There are a lot of realistic answers I could give, but having a song I wrote become really popular would be pretty amazing.
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Crow
  9. Dream occupation: Singer/songwriter!
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Either John and Hank Green or Freddy Carter
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Patience—I never seem to have enough of it.
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Probably our collective narcissism; if we could get rid of that, a lot of our problems would either be gone or so much easier to solve.
Learn more about the Psychology Transfer Pathway A.A. at Inver Hills by contacting:

Janet Finlayson, PsyD
Psychology Faculty

Learn more about LGBT+ Club at Inver Hills by contacting:

Amy Zsohar, PhD
Communication Studies Faculty

Rachael Youngren
Paraprofessional Senior (Graduate Intern)

¹ With this transfer pathway, you will be able to transfer to the following majors at:
Bemidji State University: Psychology: B.A., B.S.
Metropolitan State University: Psychology: B.A.
Minnesota State University, Moorhead: Psychology: B.A.
Minnesota State University, Mankato: Psychology: B.S.
Southwest Minnesota State University: Psychology: B.A.
St. Cloud State University:
Psychology: B.A.
Community Psychology: B.S.
Winona State University:
Psychology, Option A: B.A.
Psychology, Option B: B.A.
Please note: Universities will hold transfer students to the same grade and major admission requirements as their own students. Be sure to review the individual requirements for the university you wish to attend.

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