senior Sydney Thurman's career ambition is to be a physician assistant.
"It's kind of the step between being a medical doctor and a nurse practitioner," Thurman said. "The aspect I like most about it is you get to switch specialties. If I wanted to be in dermatology for a year and switch to critical care – which is the field I'm looking into going into the most – I have the ability to do that. I would have the opportunity to help people in multiple aspects."
So it was a big day for Thurman earlier this school year when she received the letter from the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences accepting her into its highly selective Human Health Sciences program.
The program, which is a pre-professional track for physician assistants, only accepts around 100 applicants a year.
"There aren't that many programs across the nation that are specifically designed for a pre-professional program like that," said Thurman, who attended Ridge Meadows Elementary
, LaSalle Springs Middle
and Eureka High from kindergarten through graduation.
Thurman was highly involved in a variety of activities at Eureka High. In addition to National Honor Society, Thurman was one of the founders of the school's gifted leaders organization, was on the executive board of the health professionals club and was also involved with the Eureka Equity Committee and Students with a Testimony. She played basketball for three years, viola in the orchestra for four and served as the inaugural Orchestra Student Board co-president this school year.
She also spent this school year shadowing a critical care physician assistant at Missouri Baptist Medical Center as part of a Project Lead the Way
course, earning multiple hours of hospital experience nearly every week before the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We text back and forth, and he gives me updates on what happens in the hospital so I still get the experience from afar," Thurman said. "Throughout all of my Rockwood career, I've been taught and learned that you have to persevere through everything that you do, especially through times like this. From my parents, teachers and administrators, I've always had the support system and they've always had my best interests in mind."