Abby Kuntz spent time at Brown University this summer learning about biomedical research and experiencing what school can be like for a medical student.
It helped shape her future aspirations.
"One day, we had specialized patients and we had to act as doctors," Kuntz recalled. "I was nervous about that because … I'm somewhat timid when talking to people that I'm not really familiar with. It went really well. It was just more affirmation that that's what I want to do when I grow up."
The 17-year-old McCracken County High School senior wants to study biomedical engineering in college and hopes to move on to medical school and become a doctor. She loves to find news ways to solve problems.
"McCracken has a biomedical sciences program, so I heard about that when I first moved to McCracken and I started that freshman year," she said. "Both of my parents are engineers, so they kind of pushed me to look into that field because it's just really great. Learning about it in that program got me really interested."
Kuntz, daughter of Deena and Chris Kuntz of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Each Monday and Tuesday, The Paducah Sun profiles an area high school senior chosen from a pool of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the year, a selection committee picks one of these students for Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. A second student is chosen for an Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Kuntz ranks fifth among a class of more than 400 students at McCracken County High School with a cumulative weighted GPA above 4.4. She earned a composite 32 ACT score. She's also in the running to be a valedictorian and is a Paducah Bank Teen Ambassador.
She serves as Beta Club director of public relations and National Honor Society's community service chairwoman at school, while also holding a part-time job. She dances with Paducah's Academy of Movement and Performing Arts. She's been part of the AMPA competition team for years and has traveled to various cities for dance, including Orlando, Los Angeles and New York.
Dancing can take up around 12 hours or more on a weekly basis for Kuntz, depending on the class and competition schedule. She began dancing at age 3 for recreation and it became a "huge" part of her life. She loves dance and views it as an outlet to be more creative and outgoing.
"Because I'm usually pretty shy and timid and dance doesn't really involve talking to people," she explained. "Expressing my emotions and being put in situations where you kind of have to be outgoing and show yourself has definitely improved my social skills."
In the future, Kuntz wants to take a break from dancing, but doesn't envision that lasting for good. She'd like to explore dance in the future and maybe even teaching. When she's not dancing, working or busy with school, Kuntz enjoys hanging out with her friends and family.
Kuntz cited her mother, Deena, as her role model, noting her profession as a chemical engineer and support at dance competitions.
"She's really just been a role model in my life showing me what it means to be a strong woman, especially in an engineering field where there aren't as many women as men," Kuntz said.
As for her senior year, Kuntz is excited about college and hasn't decided on where she's going yet. Her top three are Louisville, Kentucky and Vanderbilt University.
"I've been, obviously, in high school for the past four years and I think I'm just ready to switch it up and start something new, but it's also really scary to move away from home and find all new friends," she said. "It'll definitely be a scary, but exciting experience."
By: Kelly Farrell