Athletics, scholastics: Lakewood High senior thrives on challenges

LAKEWOOD — Morgan Shimkus, 17, is a straight-A senior at Lakewood High School on track to graduate with her associates degree. Along with excelling in academics, Morgan holds records in girls’ sports for pole vaulting and in weight training for dead lift, parallel squat, power clean and bench press.

Question: What types of classes are you taking?

Answer: Well, this year I’m taking Spanish 3, honors government and chemistry and then I’m taking, for this quarter, English 102 at the college but I’m taking it online. That’s pretty fun. I bring my laptop to school and do my class here usually. They’re pretty challenging, but I really like a challenge.

Q: What’s your favorite subject?

A: Math. I love math. I couldn’t take it this year because I took calculus last year and we only offer Calc 2 as independent study. I just feel like I think in numbers sometimes. I have a very mathematical mind, and so solving the problems, getting to the solution, makes me really happy.

Q: Are you involved in extracurriculars?

A: Yes. I have a lot. I have volleyball, track and field, Honor Society, Free the Children, Captain’s Academy, Cougar Crew and Knowledge Bowl.

Q: Do you have a job or do volunteer work?

A: I do not currently have a job but I have worked as a guitar teacher. I do a lot of volunteer work, mainly for National Honor Society. This year I’m doing 80 hours and the last year I did 50 and the year before I did 40.

Q: So you play music, as well?

A: Yeah, guitar and mandolin. The guitar I’ve been playing since the third grade and mandolin I started just last year.

Q: What’s your goal after high school?

A: Well I want to go to college and hopefully do track and field. And I hope to possibly one day get a Ph.D. I’d just like to continue my education to that point for math.

Q: What are you hoping to do with a math degree?

A: I was thinking I could become an actuary. And then my other idea was that there’s always a mathematician to facilitate high-up scientists and chemists and physicists and their discoveries, and I would be interested in being that, too. I was thinking about math-related careers because I can’t imagine not doing that in the future and my mom told me about actuaries and so I looked it up and then my dad told me about the one at his work and I was interested.

Q: Have you figured out what college you want to go to yet?

A: I’m looking at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. I’m also going to apply to MIT and probably University of Puget Sound. Carroll has a good track and field program which isn’t the most important thing but it’s something I’m interested in. They have good academic records and also I thought the area would be fun to explore.

Q: What’s something that might surprise people about you?

A: Probably that I do Airsoft and paintball. I’m actually part of a team, or a group. We don’t have practices or anything but we go and do Airsoft all the time. I also really like the video game “Zelda.” I’ve always been a little bit competitive and I like going out and shooting Airsoft. I like the strategizing. We have different kinds of games we play so it’s not the same thing over and over and you don’t get bored of it. It’s very strategic and technical and I like doing technical things.

Q: What do you think has been your most defining experience so far in school?

A: Probably joining track and field freshman year because that’s when I feel like I started to blossom from someone young into an adult. I met a lot of new people and they brought me into their lives and made me feel welcome. I also met the coaches and they became mentors for me and they help me with anything. And I found pole vaulting, which has become my passion.

Q: Anything else you think people should know?

A: We have a really good staff here and Mr. (Mike) Curl and Mr. (Matt) Blair, our principal and athletic director, have done a lot to make this school a really welcoming place. We have this thing called Lakewood Love and I’m a part of that and a part of making our school grow. It’s just a really welcoming place.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

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