Mason Classical Academy senior aspires to be cyber trailblazer

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of Naples Daily News stories on Graduates of Distinction, who are selected by staff at the high school. 

Women are behind some of the greatest advancements in early computer programming.

One of the first modern computer coders, Frances Elizabeth “Betty” Holberton, went on to create the first software application following World War II. 

In the ’60s, software pioneer Mary Allen Wilkes was assigned to work on the creation of the LINC, which became one of the world's first interactive personal computers.

Mason Classical Academy senior Ashley Lofgren aspires to be a trailblazer like them. 

Last year's Mason grad:Mason grad Melissa Arcila found solace in books, aspires to teach literature

"Women laid the foundation for the first computer language," said the 18-year-old, who plans to attend Florida Southern College in Lakeland in the fall to study computer science.

Ashley Lofgren is the Graduate of Distinction at Mason Classical Academy.

Lofgren doesn't follow sports or celebrity gossip, and her role model is computer programmer Holberton. She ranks third in her class of 19 students, the charter school's second graduating class since its inception in 2014.

It was in high school that Lofgren discovered her passion for math and problem-solving.

She pursued it by joining on-campus academic organizations, including Mu Alpha Theta, a national mathematics honor society; the National Honor Society and the National Junior Classical League. She even knows a little Latin.

"It was challenging and fun," Lofgren said about her high school experience. "With the small class sizes, we really got to know each other. I've made some great friends and met some great teachers."

Those include Mario Mistretta, a Mason Classical Academy math teacher who taught Lofgren most everything she knows about calculus. 

"She's a fantastic student. One of the top 5% of all students I've taught over the last eight years. She's very diligent, takes great care of her work, and she really loves to learn and do math and doesn't mind working on hard problems," Mistretta said. 

He also coached Lofgren and her teammates as they competed statewide with Mu Alpha Theta. She never won a competition, but Lofgren said it was fun. 

If she could give high school freshmen one piece of advice, it would be this, she said: "Take high school more seriously." 

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In the past four years she's done just that, although she admits it took a while to acclimate to a school environment after being home-schooled by her mother. But she quickly found success. 

Her biggest accomplishment so far? Writing a 20-page thesis project in her last semester on what makes for a good life. In her writing, Lofgren touched on the importance of living virtuously and respecting human dignity, referring to Greek philosopher Aristotle's work on the subject.  

As she prepares for the next chapter in her life, Logren hopes to  one day work in the field of cybersecurity.

She's following in the footsteps of her older brother and sister, who both studied computer science, and all the trailblazing women who came before. 


What’s your favorite TV show you binge watch on Netflix?

"The Office"

What is your favorite food and favorite place to get it?

The Fuji apple salad from Panera Bread

If you could do one thing over, what would it be?

Prepare for the PSAT and take it more seriously

If you could bring a music artist to your school, who would it be?

Panic! At The Disco

Describe your senior year of high school in one word.