Nautica Beasley, a Paducah Tilghman High School senior, is blazing a trail of her own by becoming the first member of her family to attend a four-year university.
Throughout her childhood, Beasley had to overcome her share of difficulties and pain, but with a solid support system backing her up, she has learned what it means to take life's lemons and make lemonade.
"I don't want to disappoint my grandparents or my uncle and aunt because they kind of raised me," Beasley said. "I didn't want the same thing that happened to my parents to happen to me. I want to set an example for my younger sisters."
Beasley feels the pain of her past has driven her toward future success.
With a nearly perfect grade-point average, Beasley is on the principal's honor roll at Paducah Tilghman and is a Paxton Scholar, selected as one of four outstanding minority students in her class. More recently, Beasley was offered the $30,000 William C. Parker Diversity Scholarship by the University of Kentucky and the Woodford R. Porter Scholarship by the University of Louisville.
"What motivates me is doing well for my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my sisters," Beasley said.
Beasley, the niece of Jonathan and Sarah Smith, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week. Each week in the online edition and Tuesday in the print edition, The Sun features a teen selected from nominees submitted by guidance counselors throughout the region. Near the end of the school year, one of the students profiled will be named Teen of the Year and receive a $5,000 scholarship.
Although she got a late start, Beasley said she has developed a passion for sports of all kinds, and it shows.
She is captain of Paducah Tilghman's varsity cheerleading squad and a three-time All-American Cheerleader. She attended the statewide Universal Cheerleaders Association Elite Camp, winning third overall.
She is also captain of Paducah Tilghman's varsity soccer team and runs on the varsity track and field team. She was named regional team champion three times individually in her race, the 4x100, in track and field. This year, she was named football homecoming queen.
Beasley serves as secretary of Future Business Leaders of America, is a member of the National Honor Society, and the Paducah Tilghman Hospitality Committee. She has also been selected by administration to represent her school at Chamber of Commerce events, conduct school tours and register new students.
She is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is a volunteer counselor for the George Wilson Youth Empowerment/Healthy Lifestyle Program. Working as an editor for the Paducah Tilghman yearbook and a staff writer for the Paducah Tilghman student newspaper, Beasley often writes columns for the sports pages.
Sports have been a big part of her life, she said, and she has decided to continue that passion even has she pursues a career.
Although she is currently undecided on which university she would like to attend and is waiting on more scholarship offers, Beasley said she knows she would like to have a career dealing with sports, exercise science, or kinesiology.
"I'm not glad that I went through what I did, but if I hadn't seen it firsthand, things might have been different for me," Beasley said.