As a foster child, Grace Raber has always made academic achievement a priority.
"I see being successful in education as a way for me to uplift fellow foster children and set an example for my foster and biological sisters," she said.
A senior at Paducah Tilghman High School, Raber is ranked first in her class and is a Kentucky Governor's Scholar. She will graduate with 12 AP credits, is an AP Scholar with Distinction and holds an ACT composite score of 33.
But even with such success under her belt, Raber's peers and teachers say she never seeks the limelight, always maintaining a humble disposition.
Raber, the daughter of Lisa Hill, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Each Monday 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. An additional student will be chosen for an Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Raber said she has honor and pride in her perseverance through high school and in the fact that she never let her home life or personal struggles keep her from succeeding academically. She said there have been a number of people in her life, including her foster mom and a number of teachers at her school, who have helped her along the way.
"I don't feel like any of my achievements were completely self-made," she said. "I've always had people behind me, supporting me. I can't ever take full credit for everything I've done, because I couldn't have gotten this far without the people around me."
Raber is involved in several extra-curricular and volunteer activities at her school, including the speech and debate team, serving as captain and being named state runner-up in Future Problem Solvers, serving as a state representative on the Commissioners State Student Council. She is also a member of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team, Paducah Tilghman Hospitality Committee and the National Honor Society.
Outside of school, she is most proud of her achievements as a tutor.
"It has been an amazing experience for me to work with children and see how they grow and improve with my help," she said. "I love being able to know that I am there to help other people and improve their academic success."
She plans to pursue a pre-medical track in college with a focus on psychology.
"I want to be a psychologist because I feel like there is a lot of emphasis on medication right now to solve mental illness," she said. "But there are other coping mechanisms that are more healthy for you."
Her dream is to set up an independent practice as a psychologist and start a clinic that focuses on medicinal help along with teaching patients to cope through music, art and writing to overcome their mental illnesses and struggles.
Raber said her roots are very important to her, and she never wants to forget them.
"I'm really passionate about teaching kids who are in foster care or who come from hard backgrounds that they can achieve anything they want with hard work," she said.