Karigan Guthrie has persevered through personal struggles and always worked hard for her local community.
The Mayfield High School senior is described by her teachers as motivated, friendly and always smiling. The hard worker has dealt with difficult personal circumstances, including being born with the condition Strabismus in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other. She had her first corrective surgery at age 9 months.
However, she hasn't allowed her ongoing ocular issues to affect or limit her participation in school activities and athletics. Her struggles also have led her to an interest in a future career in the medical field.
"Dealing with my eyes has made me want to help others in the same way," she said. "Doctors are just able to help everyone."
Guthrie, daughter of Mitchell and Dayna Guthrie, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different teen selected from nominees submitted to the Sun by guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois. 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.
The self-described open-minded student stays busy outside the classroom through her participation in the Sportsman's Club, Interact Club, Key Club, Science Club, Fellowship of Student Athletes (FCA) and the Health Occupational Students of American (HOSA) organization. She has played on the varsity volleyball, fast-pitch softball and powder puff football teams. Guthrie played softball most of her life but began playing volleyball during her freshman year, her first at Mayfield High School.
"I wanted to be active in the school so I chose volleyball, and luckily I'm pretty gifted with learning fast," she said.
The unique senior has many items on her resume atypical for her age including work as a custom graphics designer creating T-shirt prints at Dsignz Unlimited in Mayfield and volunteer experience as the fundraising chairwoman and community outreach director for Mayfield Youth Leadership. In that position Guthrie provides resources to local community outreach programs, encourages students to volunteer and works with area business and government organizations.
"It's very important as we grow older to stay involved," she said. "The community needs people my age to lead because we will be the future leaders."
She has worked in concessions, as a coach, umpire and done field work with the Mayfield-Graves County Baseball and Softball Association. Her work with USA Heart Inc. was recognized with the 2010-2011 Junior Board Member of the Year Award.
She has also given her time through the Mayfield Preschool Head Start internship program as a teacher's aide.
"I've enjoyed teaching future generations how to respect leaders, grow and learn," she said.
Guthrie also is an active member of the youth group at Pryorsburg Baptist Church in Mayfield, including yearlong community service events and mission trips. She hopes to continue giving back while in college.
The 3.789 grade-point average honor student has worked hard to challenge herself with college courses, Advanced Placement (AP) and other acceleration curriculum throughout her high school career and was inducted into the Beta Club this year.
She was named a Commonwealth of Kentucky Ambassador this year and is the recipient of many academic awards including the AP English 11 Outstanding Essay Award. She is enrolled in the post-secondary health science classes through the Mayfield Area Technology Center and lists her favorite classes as biology, anatomy and English.
She hopes to continue her education in a physician's assistance program and medical school and open a practice or assist a doctor in an existing practice locally. Guthrie is undecided on her college options, but her finalists include Murray State University, University of Kentucky in Lexington, Campbellsville University, and Brescia University in Owensboro.
"I'm nervous but mostly excited to take another step toward starting my life," she said. "It sad to leave high school, but we will always have the memories."
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.