Miranda Meier lives her life according to her three passions - teaching, community service and dance.
The McCracken County High School senior has been dancing since age 2 when she was encouraged by her grandmother. Since then, she has been a competitive dancer with the Center Stage Dance Studio in Paducah and been a member on the dance team each year at Lone Oak and McCracken County middle and high schools.
Meier has served as the team captain for three years, participated in national competitions and was one of the co-founders of a big-sister, little-sister mentorship program for younger dancers at the studio. She said spending time and supporting her little sister has been one of the most fulfilling parts of her involvement with dance.
"It (the big sister-little sister program) is so rewarding ... to see that it clicked and my little sister did so well in her solo was so amazing," she said.
Meier, daughter of father Chuck Meier, stepmother Kim Meier and mother Cheryl Meier, 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 or a cash award of $2,500, paid through the Paducah Sun, if the student selects another college to attend.
Meier also commits her time to the Beta Club as the point secretary and as a member of the Future Educators Association Club. She also served as a tour guide at the consolidated high school to introduce incoming freshman students to the facility and enjoyed expressing her excitement to future McCracken County students.
"It was overwhelming at first and not something we all wanted," she said. "But now that I'm here, I absolutely love it and it's the best thing in the world. Showing off my excitement about the school got them excited."
She also graduated from the Youth Leadership, Education, and Development (LEAD) program during her junior year, which featured a different weekly field trip to places through the Paducah, McCracken County communities.
"I was unaware of how blind I was to the resources that our community has to offer," she said. "It was really an eye-opening experience."
She was selected for the five-week Governor's Scholar program last summer at Bellarmine University in Louisville with a concentration in business, accounting and entrepreneurship. She also took a general studies class that focused on defining comedy that gave her an insight into future college classes that will feature respectful and in-depth discussion.
"When I applied, I knew I wanted to be selected so badly because I had only heard great things about the program," she said. "The day I received my acceptance letter was one of the best days."
Meier also emphasized her participation in the two-year AP/Cambridge Capstone Pilot Program that taught her useful skills about constructing and defending a research paper based on scholarly works that will be vital at the next level.
The community-minded student spends much of her free time giving back to the local area, including helping with the Knights of Columbus fish fry at St. John Catholic Church and the Hope Center Pregnancy and Family Services' yearly fundraising dinner. She has also volunteered with the Paducah Cooperative Ministry, Child Watch Children's Advocacy Center, Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Christmas in the Park food drive and The Salvation Army and spends quality time with her family, helping to take care of her grandmother and tutoring younger brother Matthew.
The 3.958 grade-point average student who has excelled at many Advanced Placement (AP) courses plans to attend the University of Kentucky in Lexington to major in secondary education with a concentration in mathematics and a minor in dance. Meier also hopes to eventually return to the local area to teach high school mathematics.
"I'm so excited to start earning my degree so I can get out there and start teaching," she said.
Her interest in becoming a teacher began earlier this school year through an introduction to teaching class, along with time spent after school tutoring and leading swim instruction classes at the Noble Park pool. She has always enjoyed mathematics because of the ability to find out a concrete solution to problems.
"When I tutor kids in math and finally see that light bulb go off that they are understanding what they are doing and how it makes sense, I thought I really like doing this," she said.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.
Teen of the Week
n Nominations are accepted only from guidance counselors.
n If you are interested in the scholarship program, contact your guidance counselor.
n Nominations are reviewed by The Paducah Sun.
n For questions contact Kendra Mitchell at 270-575-8625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.