Archbishop Murphy senior Trevor Johnston is interested in pursuing bioengineering with the goal of helping develop ways to treat neurodegenerative diseases. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Maltby teen who’s been all over the world wonders what’s next

EVERETT — Trevor Johnston is as well-rounded as he is high-achieving. The 4.0 student and National Merit finalist at Archbishop Murphy High School lives in Maltby.

Question: What classes are you taking?

Answer: I’m taking AP statistics, theology 12, AP computer science, AP English literature and composition, AP government and politics, multivariable calculus honors, and AP physics.

Q: So, you know, taking it easy, coasting through senior year… Seriously, wow. That’s almost all college-level work.

A: I really like the sciences and math. … I’m a fairly motivated individual and I actually like to work. I had to, because I was homeschooled until high school. When I got here, it just kind of took off because it was even more challenging.

Q: Was a perfect GPA something you were aiming for?

A: I was aiming for it, but if I do get a low grade, like on a test, it’s not like, “Oh, I need this 4.0.” It’s more, “I should have studied harder.” It’s a goal, but it’s not being held over my head.

Q: Was it a hard transition from homeschool?

A: That transition was easier than going from elementary to homeschool. I play soccer, and so a lot of the kids I played with came here. I’ve played with many of them before.

Q: You’ve applied to several top universities and have been accepted to a few so far. What’s your goal?

A: It’d either be bioengineering or possibly materials engineering. … In bioengineering, it could be transferring a bacteria to a certain protein that could be used in drugs. In materials engineering, an example is making better materials for bone implants that already have drugs in them, so there’s less of a chance of getting addicted to narcotics — something WSU is doing.

Q: What drew you to these types of field?

A: I’ve been interested in neurodegenerative diseases and malaria (through family connections and experiences). So I’ve been really interested in biology — and the area where engineering and biology meet.

Q: You’ve started your soccer season strong as goalkeeper. What other activities keep you busy?

A: I’m the student store manager for DECA, and I also compete. I’m in Knowledge Bowl, Hi-Q, History Bowl — those are the constants. And I like, when I get a chance, to lead the student retreat Kairos.

Q: Tell me a little bit about Knowledge Bowl (state tournament was March 18 at Arlington High School).

A: Our team name is Awkward Silence. There are six of us on the team. We got to state, which is good. … Knowledge Bowl, you don’t really train for. It’s more random bits you’ve learned and read and skimmed over the years and pull from. They’ll ask sometimes about South Africa or Iceland or places I’ve been.

Q: Your mom is from South Africa, and you’ve done a lot of traveling.

A: Homeschooling allowed a lot of flexibility. I’ve toured 19, 20 states, been to Canada. I’ve spent probably 12 months total in South Africa. I’ve been to Namibia, done a 14-day excursion through Iceland, stopped over in the United Arab Emirates. And I’ve been to Great Britain, France and the Netherlands. Oh, and also Central America — Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Q: Has traveling given you a different perspective?

A: I think it has. It’s shown me certain places people are shoved aside. A lot of these had service involved … It’s kind of interesting to see how there’s always going to be someone marginalized. Beyond that, it’s been a great experience to interact with someone you don’t understand fully. Iceland was great. They’re very friendly, but they come off as gruff at first.

Q: What does it feel like, to be at this stage in life?

A: Right now I’m having difficulty setting time aside to look to what’s next. I’m busy applying for scholarships, studying for tests. It might feel nice — a little relaxing — to sit down, look back, and have some solid chunks of time to look at my future.

Q: Do you have any advice for freshmen?

A: Get involved in activities that will foster good relationships throughout high school. If you can tell an activity will be toxic, don’t do it. Find a community that has good leaders who can also foster good leadership in you.

Q: Do you have anyone you consider a mentor or who inspires you?

A: Probably my grandpa. He was just overall a great guy in the community. There was a fishing tournament, and he always won it. But rather than keep the prize, he’d give it back to whatever family it was who the memorial was for. Anything for himself, he always gave back. Whenever he caught a fish, he’d go plant a few more in the stream.

Q: What do you do outside of school?

A: I love photography, skiing, hiking — anything outdoors. That’s my way to unwind. South of Skykomish, there are some nice trails. Trails by the river — and lakes; we pack in a raft and go fishing. Fishing is really calming. You can think about anything you want. Hiking is a sense of accomplishment when you get to your destination, a sense of adventure when you find something … It’s great to be in the middle of nowhere and not have sensory overload.

Melissa Slager: streetsmarts@heraldnet.com, 425-339-3432.

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