Samantha Looper strives to be a "best friend to all" in her school activities, athletic involvement and future career ambitions.
The Mayfield High School senior who spends much of her free time giving back to her local community is focused on pursuing a career as a pediatrician. She said her interest in providing medical care for young children began while babysitting her younger sister Lindsey Looper and her friends.
"I love helping people and always put other people before myself," she said. "I like seeing other people happy and that makes me happy."
Looper, daughter of Chad and Robyn Looper, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois submitted to the Sun. Mid-Continent University will provide each Teen of the Week with a $2,500 annual scholarship to its university, which is renewable for four years.
In the spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners. The Teen of the Year is eligible for a full four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent University or a cash award of $2,500, paid through the Paducah Sun, if the student selects another college to attend.
Looper grew up with a zeal for reading, with her favorite genres romance, suspense and adventure books, but grew into an interest in the medical field through a love of her mathematics and science classes. She cites her pediatrician growing up as her role model and someone she wishes to emulate.
Mayfield teachers commend Looper for her strong worth ethic and positive energy. She also works part time selling concessions at A to Z Consignments Auctions and as a crew member at Wells Studio, both in Mayfield.
Looper is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta Club, Sportsman's Club, Science Club and a four-year representative on the student council. Through her high school years she has been the recipient of the perfect attendance award and outstanding student awards for English and Anatomy.
She also won regional FBLA awards for her business, spreadsheet-based projects, which she credits her father's help and love of mathematics as the driving force to her success. Although she isn't planning on a career in business, Looper said her knowledge of financial management will help her in the future with personal and professional money management.
"Since junior year, time management has become a real necessity, just to get all my assignments and everything else done," she said.
Looper, a 4.0 grade-point average student who ranks first in her class, also devotes much of her time to helping her community as president of the Youth Leadership Club and has volunteered for the Mayfield March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon, fundraisers for the Hope for Life program, the Stuff the Bus donation drive and helped to organize the Hope for Life Donation Drive.
Looper describes herself as an "outdoorsy-type girl" who spends much of her free time fishing and hiking at the lake. She said her participation in the Sportsman's Club allows her to enjoy outdoor activities with her classmates and is looking forward to the club's upcoming trip to Memphis.
She stays busy on the playing field as a member of the varsity basketball and volleyball teams, where she has been named most valuable player. Looper has also received the 110 percent award and Lady Cardinal Sportsmanship award in basketball, been named all-district volleyball and has academic awards in both sports.
The student-athlete who transferred from Graves County schools in her freshman year is looking forward to the start of basketball season and enjoying the last season with her teammates and friends.
"Since I moved here (Mayfield High School) from Graves, we have just grown up together," she said. "I'm just going to cherish these last memories with my class."
Looper is considering the University of Kentucky in Lexington, the University of Louisville and Murray State University as potential college options and then plans to continue to medical school. She said each college choice offers some independence but is close enough to maintain a strong bond locally with family and friends.
"As long as I know I'm supported by my family, I can do anything I put my mind to," she said.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.