April Riley, 2017 Teen of the Year, is a junior at Murray State University. April is majoring in Public & Community Health with a focus in Health Education. She is a member of the Honors College at MSU and has studied abroad in Jamaica, England, and Greece. She will graduate in 2021.
In 2017 when April won the top teen award presented by The Paducah Sun and Paducah Bank, she commented that she was grateful for the financial struggle she had experienced. "It motivated me to work hard, because I knew nothing in life would be handed to me," said April, a McCracken County High School senior and student in the Commonwealth Middle College program.
"I knew I needed to (plan) for college, because I couldn't depend on anyone to pay for it." Focused a career in healthcare, the 19-year-old Paducah native juggled several extracurriculars including Beta Club, Health Occupations Students and Future Business Leaders of America, Middle College Student Council, and National and Spanish honor societies.
Though April hasn't always been sure of nursing, she's been certain of a few goals. "I've known since the eighth grade that I wanted to go into Middle College and be valedictorian," she said. "I've been going for straight A's since second grade."
Valedictorian status requires seven AP classes completed at MCHS, she said, and she managed the full course load while staying on track for two associate degrees in art and science by graduation.
April remembers dressing as a nurse for career day in the first grade but said helping her mother recover from a near-fatal car accident is what "sold it home." After the doctors told Karen Riley she would never walk again, her daughter watched her gradually move from a wheelchair to a walking cane.
"That's what made me want to be a nurse," she said. "My mom kept proving them wrong at every turn. While she was doing rehab, I took care of her."
In high school, April volunteered at Baptist Health Paducah, learning more about how a hospital operates. Last year, she did an internship at the hospital. When asked about her influences in life, she didn’t hesitate before naming her mother. April said, as she grows older, she realizes everything her mother has done to help her. “My mom was poor growing up," she said. "She didn't have much, but she wants better for me. I want the same for myself."