McCracken County senior Skylar Mitchell describes herself as a perfectionist who strives to maintain a positive outlook, no matter the situation.
Meeting Mitchell, you see just that: a bright personality with determination.
Ranked first in her class of 425 and currently on track to be valedictorian, Mitchell is an AP Scholar with a 4.3 GPA and has made it her goal to be a "proactive student."
In her fourth year with Project Lead the Way's Biomedical Science Program at McCracken, Mitchell is now confident in her decision to pursue a career as a physician's assistant.
She has organized and run blood drives sponsored by the program, led heart dissections for younger students enrolled and visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Human Body Exhibit of Atlanta and the Cadaver Lab at Logan Chiropractic School in St. Louis.
"When I first started high school, I didn't think I would want to do anything in the medical field," Mitchell said. "Then I started taking classes my freshman year and got to learn about the human body, the heart, a lot of things in the medical field."
But her visit to the Cadaver Lab in St. Louis, Mitchell said, is what had a lasting impact.
"That's when I knew I really wanted to do something in the medical field," she said.
Mitchell, the daughter of Scott and Lori Mitchell, 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 will receive a $5,000 scholarship. An additional student will be chosen for an Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Mitchell serves as a Family Career and Community Leaders of America officer at her school. She is a member of the Beta Club, HOSA-Future Health Professionals, Community Service Club and National Society of High School Scholars.
She was nominated to attend the 2018 National Youth Leadership Forum: Advance Medicine and Health Care, the 2017 National Youth Leadership Forum: Medicine and was invited to represent McCracken County High School at the 2017 National Student Leadership Conference.
She was nominated for the academic recognition as a delegate representing the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the 2016 Congress of Future Medical Leaders, nominated to attend the 2016 National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Award of Excellence Conference and was the recipient of the President's Award for Educational Excellence: Outstanding Academic Excellence in 2015.
Apart from academics, Mitchell has been dancing since she was 4 and began competively dancing around the age of 9, when she was in the third grade.
As an active, 10-year member of the three-time National Award Winning Elite Competition Dance Company at the Academy of Movement and Performing Arts, Mitchell was given the opportunity to serve as a rehearsal coach and dance teacher to younger girls.
When she was a member of the McCracken County High School Dance Team, Mitchell said she enjoyed representing her school through dance. In 2016 and 2017, she received the Universal Dance Association All-American Award.
"My favorite thing about dancing is the opportunity to make great connections with other girls, and it's like a second family," Mitchell said. "I love getting to meet people I don't go to school with and get even closer to people I do go to school with. You really learn to work as a team."
Mitchell said dancing has also helped build her confidence.
"You have to put yourself out there and learn how to portray certain things to other people," Mitchell said. "It's fun to compete and have those kinds of experiences."
With extracurriculars that demand time and attention, Mitchell said it has been difficult at times to maintain her academic excellence, but is thankful for the experience, because she feels it has prepared her for what's to come in college.
"I'm a perfectionist, so I really like to put my all into school work because I don't want to turn in something that's not good," she said. "So it's really taught me time management, how to balance my schedule and how to do hard work."
In fact, Mitchell learning to give her all in everything has been one of the biggest lessons she has had to learn during her time in high school.
"If you always start by trying to do the best you can, it will pay off in the end," she said. "Always try to be positive and get the best out of every situation.
"If you're always down and you're discouraged, that just makes things miserable. So I always try to be happy and have a positive attitude about things. It makes you more enjoyable to be around."
Although she has not yet decided on a school she would like to attend, Mitchell plans to attend graduate school and would like to one day be a physician assistant in Paducah.