MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Paxtyn Merten, 17, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School, is the editor of her school’s newspaper, a member of the National Honor Society, has a 4.0 GPA, and works a part-time job.
Question: What activities are you involved in at high school?
Answer: First of all, I’m the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and website, The Hawkeye. That’s my main area of involvement. I’m one of the three chairmen of our Link Crew program. It does work to help freshmen become incorporated with the school. I’m one of the three people who run the class and organizes Link leaders.
Also with journalism I’m in charge of teaching the 7th period journalism class. That’s one of the responsibilities of the editor-in-chief. I get to run that every day after school.
Q: What else do you participate in?
A: I’m also involved in the inter-high. We meet with inter-high members from throughout the district and talk about service projects.
I’m also involved in the National Honor Society … volunteering or tutoring. I used to be an officer, but gave that up to be editor-in-chief of the paper. Too hard to balance it. I’m also a student advisor to the Edmonds School Board. I go to those meetings and provide input from my school.
Q: Do you work?
A: I’m an assistant to a house appraiser. Sometimes I go with her and do some of her paperwork and organizational stuff.
Q: With your GPA, I’m assuming you’re going to college. Where are you thinking of attending?
A: I’ve been accepted at Northeastern University in Boston. I’ve applied to a few other schools.
Q: What do you plan to study?
A: I want to pursue journalism. I’ll most likely end up on the East Coast or a big city to work toward the goal of being a journalist.
Q: How would you like to apply your skill as a journalist?
A: I’ve been working with data for the past couple of years. One story I worked on was the religious beliefs of students at our school. I was one of the first to work in data journalism. I would really like to go into investigative reporting and use data to tell stories and take lots of complex information (and make it possible) for the average person to decipher.
I would like to work with video, too. I know how to use cameras and take photos. I would like to learn more about different multi-media outlets in college.
Q: When did you get interested in journalism?
A: Ever since I could put a pen to a piece of paper, that’s what I liked to do, is write and read. In middle school, I was one of the five people to start the journalism program at our school. We had a little paper we did. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was the start of doing something that would go to students.
In high school, I joined the paper. On the second national journalism convention I went on I was in Boston and New York City. We got to tour The New York Times and sit in on a page one meeting … That sort of like got me excited about journalism and solidified my desire to pursue it in the future. Being a reporter, I see the impact that journalism has.
Q: What classes are you taking this year?
A: Four AP classes — biology, statics, government and politics, and literature and composition. Also Spanish 4.
Q: What have been the biggest influences in life?
A: I definitely would say the biggest has been my mother. She also supports the things I’m involved with. The last two years, she was treasurer and now president of the PTSA. She has shown me an example of how to serve the community, be involved, be a leader in everything you do and produce high quality work in everything you do.
She didn’t pressure me to do anything … to get straight As or anything. She just let me decide what I wanted to do. That sort of autonomy makes me intrinsically motivated rather than by outer sources.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.