Your average person doesn't spend much time considering the world around them at a granular, molecular level.
Then again, your average person is not Eureka High
senior Erin Gwaltney.
"I've always seen things less for what they are and more of what they could be," Gwaltney said. "Seeing things at the base level, how small these components are and how it makes up everything, that's so fascinating to me."
That's what drew Gwaltney to chemical engineering, which she plans to study at the University of Minnesota starting this fall. She is heading north after a stellar academic career at Eureka High in which she logged a perfect 36 on her ACT, was named a National Merit Scholarship finalist and was chosen for inclusion on the Missouri Scholars 100 list, which recognizes 100 seniors from around the state who exhibit exceptional scholarship, citizenship and reliability.
She was also a cellist in the Eureka High symphonic and pit orchestras and a member of National Honor Society, the Eureka Equity Committee, the E-Crew freshman orientation organization and the Gifted Leaders Organization, which she co-founded.
The Gifted Leaders Organization's main annual project is planning a day on which LaSalle Springs Middle
eighth-graders can come shadow high schoolers.
"We wanted to build up this program that provided enrichment events for gifted students," said Gwaltney, who attended Ridge Meadows Elementary
starting in second grade before moving on to LaSalle Springs and Eureka. "Rockwood has great education, but one thing that I really took away from it was the fact that people at every level, from administration to teachers, treated us like adults. I learned a lot of self-advocacy from that. I should be willing to stand up for myself, and people will be willing to work with me. That is super valuable."