STANWOOD — Shilah Stevens, 17, is as driven as she is sweet. The Stanwood High School senior is applying to several colleges and wants to help others.
Question: So you came from a college-level Advanced Placement calculus class for this. What other classes are you taking now?
Answer: I have AP Chemistry. I have Spanish III — that’s really fun. I have AP comparative governments, AP lit, and I have team sports. … It’s a lot, but they’re all really fun and I enjoy them.
Q: You always take such a tough load?
A: It challenges me and helps me grow, makes me a better person.
Q: Why is that important to you?
A: I think my parents have always tried to push me to do more, because they want a better future for me.
Q: Your principal mentioned you have stayed focused on your academics despite some family hardships.
A: (My dad) has been laid off a lot of times. So that’s been kind of hard. But you just have to push through it. … My family didn’t really come from where their family supported their academics. They want me to have a better life and be successful.
Q: What do your parents do?
A: My dad, Brian, is a carpenter, and my mom, Renee, is starting up her own cleaning business in the area.
Q: So where do you go from here?
A: I would like to go to college and major in either chemistry or biology, and hopefully become a doctor. I’d like to do a Doctors Without Borders thing and help people.
Q: Why is helping others part of your motivation?
A: My parents have always been supportive of that. They know how it feels, I know how it feels — to not have that edge. You don’t have as many opportunities being middle- to lower-class. I’d like to help other people in that situation.
Q: Where are you applying?
A: I’m applying to the UW. I applied early admissions to Dartmouth. And I think I might apply to Whitworth and Johns Hopkins. … I’ve been looking around for colleges that are out of state to get a new experience.
Q: How does it feel?
A: It’s kind of nerve-wracking. You’re just kind of nervous, but you’ve got to go for it.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about high school?
A: Probably just the sense of community you get, seeing your friends every day and having that group of people supporting you.
Q: Do you have any advice for freshmen?
A: I would probably say just get into clubs more. You meet new people, broaden your interests. And it’s just fun. You get more connected.
Q: What activities are you involved in?
A: I do FBLA, which is Future Business Leaders of America. That’s always fun. I’m in National Honor Society. And I always do track in the spring. I do long jump and triple jump.
Q: What do you do in your free time — if you have any?
A: If I have free time, I like to read a lot of books. … “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” that’s probably my favorite one. I read it sophomore year, just on my own. (Right now) I’m reading “Life’s Vital Link.” It’s a science book (about the role of the placenta). It’s about the beginning of life, and how it forms inside. A little bit about evolution, too.
Q: Do you have siblings?
A: I have one older sister. She’s 19. And I have two younger brothers. (My sister) is going to college at UW Bothell. She’s studying to be a nurse.
Q: Do you have any mentors, or people who inspire you?
A: My parents. They’re always trying to push me to be better. And my grandma Rosa. She was an awesome lady. Always kind to everyone, and always supporting the family and a sense of community.
Q: How would you describe your approach to life right now?
A: Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be scared to just get out there and do what you’ve always wanted to do.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3432.