Claire Buchanan plans to study music therapy in college, bring that knowledge back to her hometown and help people.
The 18-year-old McCracken County High School senior is passionate about music -- evident by years of singing in choirs, at church and playing clarinet. It's a way to express herself and she wants music to be part of her future. She's known that for years.
"I want to take what I've learned and come back here and start my own kind of business in therapy," she said.
Music therapy can be used for a variety of situations and treatment plans, such as memory and behavioral issues, and Buchanan hopes to attend Belmont University in Nashville to learn more about the practice.
"They have the undergrad for music therapy," she said. "They don't have the graduate, so the dream plan is to go and get my undergrad at Belmont and then go to UK (University of Kentucky) for the graduate because they are the only school in Kentucky to have a graduate program for it."
Buchanan, the daughter of Brandon and Mary Buchanan of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Each Monday and Tuesday, The Sun will feature an area high school senior chosen from a pool of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition, who are nominated by school guidance counselors. A selection committee will recognize one of the students as Teen of the Year, around the end of the school year, and the recipient receives a $5,000 scholarship. An additional student is chosen for an Inspiration Award and receives a $1,000 scholarship.
Buchanan, who has hearing loss, encounters some challenges when it comes to her passion for music, such as listening tests for AP Music Theory class or hearing certain frequencies, but she finds ways to adjust.
She also took sign language classes at West Kentucky Community and Technical College.
"One of my close friends from church actually went and learned sign language with me, and we brought it back to our school. … We got to perform the national anthem at one of the baseball games, which was really cool.
"It's kind of where I got to learn a different part about me because even though I'm not deaf -- I can't hear that well -- and so I got to learn another side of me that I never knew," she said.
Buchanan is not just focused on music. She enjoys photography as a hobby, dance, traveling, going to church several times a week and spending time with family and friends, staying busy during a pivotal year filled with milestones. She celebrated her 18th birthday on Sept. 11 - having been born on that fateful, historic day in 2001.
A honor roll student, Buchanan is heavily involved in extracurriculars, whether it's sign language club, church worship band, serving as prayer group president or participating in the school's wind ensemble, varsity dance team and varsity and a cappella choirs.
Buchanan also participated in the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce Youth LEAD program and was selected as a Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation Youth Tour delegate.
She stays busy and heeds her mother's advice when it comes to balancing school and life: "Take everything one day at a time." That's the plan for senior year, too. She doesn't want to look back and not remember all of the good times at McCracken County High School.
"While still succeeding in all of my academics and activities and everything -- I just want to take it all in," she said. "Our motto this year is, 'Everyone matters. Every moment counts.' I want to make every moment count and remember those things."
Story Courtesy of Paducah Sun. Written by Kelly Farrell