Haeley Johnston has a passion for technology

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Haeley Johnston, a 17-year-old senior at Mountlake Terrace High School, is state president of the Technology Student Association. She also is one of five students statewide to be selected as the Washington Scholars in Career and Technical Education.

That honor, announced last month by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, means the Everett teen is in the running for a national award. Johnston will be among those representing Washington for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars in CTE award. This is the first time Career and Technical Education is being recognized as a category for those national awards.

“Haeley is part of the first class to go through our STEM Magnet High School,” said Mountlake Terrace Assistant Principal Peter Schurke. This is the magnet program’s fourth year at the school. “There aren’t many who are doing more in career and tech than she is,” Schurke said.

Question: You live in Everett, but go to Mountlake Terrace High School. How did that happen?

Answer: I have a variance. My dad teaches at Brier Terrace Middle School. I’ve been in the Edmonds district since kindergarten. I always knew I was going to go here with all my friends from middle school.

Q: Vice Principal Schurke said your school’s STEM magnet program satisfies all high school requirements, but with a strong focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Tell me about your experience.

A: I’m in the biotechnology pathway. I will graduate with a special honors diploma. I started taking general engineering classes my freshman and sophomore years. In junior year, you pick a pathway — aerospace, biotechnology or computer engineering.

For senior English, I’m taking STEM Bioscience and learning technical writing. We also took part in the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair in Bellevue. Ten of us in class were making teeth-whitening coffee. For the additives in coffee, we used coconut oil and MI Paste, a protein made from milk. We couldn’t use real teeth, we used tiles.

Q: What are your college plans?

A: I’m going to go to WSU and do their Honors College. I’m planning on majoring in biochemistry. I chose WSU in Pullman because it’s a research university with lots of opportunities for students in science to get hands-on experience. That’s important if you want a job in science after graduation.

Q: What is involved in the Technology Student Association?

A: I’m the state president for the TSA, and I founded the Mountlake Terrace chapter. We have about 3,500 members statewide. You can compete on a regional, state and national level. The event I competed in is Career Preparations. You create a resume and cover letter for three different up-and-coming STEM jobs: biomedical engineering, forensic sciences and software engineers. I try to find someone who actually works in the area. I’ll go do a job shadow so I can understand what it’s like.

I have been participating since seventh grade. Last summer I went to the national TSA conference in Dallas. I was chosen from 234,000 students on the national level for the highest honor a member can earn. It’s the Dr. Bob Hansen Distinguished Student Award.

Q: And you have top grades, right?

A: My grade-point average is 3.96.

Q: Have you narrowed down your career goals?

A: I don’t know yet. There’s the agriculture route, drug development, testing for companies or research experiments. I’m also interested in forensic science. In 10 years, I hope to be established in a biotech career — and to love going to work every day.

Q: Have you had a job during high school?

A: I work as a nanny for two kids. They’re 6 and 10. I’ve done it just since last summer. I help them with homework and drive them places.

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: I have one brother, he’s in eighth grade. And we have a dachshund named Chance.

Q: What about spare time? Do you have favorite movies or music?

A: I don’t have a lot of spare time, I’ve been doing scholarship applications lately. I’m kind of an ’80s fan. My favorite movie is “Back to the Future.” And I like Bon Jovi and other ’80s rock.

Q: Have you done volunteer work?

A: I volunteered at Shoreline Community College at a biotechnology camp. In high school, I’ve done Key Club. We did food drives, made blankets and collected eyeglasses. I also do community service through Honor Society.

Q: Is there a standout memory you’ll take away from high school?

A: Probably the friends. My two passions are science and helping people.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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