The Paducah Tilghman senior gained a zeal for knowledge from family members and through personal exploration of certain subject areas that sparked his interests. His grandmother Susan Hancock is the head of the high school's English Department, chairwoman of the mock trial team and adviser for the school newspaper,The Tilghman Bell,His other grandmother was also an English teacher and both parents were English majors in college, he said.
His love for learning, unquenchable thirst for knowledge and focus on independent study of specific topics have prepared Hancock well for his next step.
"I'm sad to see it (high school) go ... but so excited to see where I end up and where it takes me," he said.
Hancock, son of Sid and Justin Hancock, 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.
The 4.25 grade-point average student who is currently ranked first in his class, lists English and history as his two favorite subjects because as a student he can immerse himself in a specific historical or cultural place and time. His love for history began in two places, one in the typical location of a bookstore, the other a more unique place of his family business, Hancock's of Paducah.
An intense interest in the history of Turkey began in seventh grade after he picked up a book about the Byzantine Empire that he couldn't put down. He also learned about countries throughout the world and developed a keen interest in travel, packing and shipping orders of quilting supplies while working part-time at the family business.
Hancock said his two favorite high school memories — adding flair to his closing argument at a mock trial conference and bonding with his group during a decade skit project for his AP American Studies class — involved activities outside his comfort zone and bonding with team members.
Along with his academic accomplishments including — being named a National Merit semifinalist and being selected to the summer Kentucky Governor's Scholar program — Hancock has participated in several clubs and activities.
He listed his favorites as mock trial where he has served as the captain of the defense team for two years, his four-year participation on the academic and speech teams and his work onThe Tilghman Bellwhere he is currently the editor-in-chief. Hancock said he cannot choose an overall favorite activity because he enjoys his time with each organization for different reasons.
"This year I'm excited to see the culmination of everything I've done in high school — English, history classes and mock trial," he said.
He devotes much of his free time to community service activities through his role as president of the Paducah Tilghman chapter of National Honor Society and youth and acolyte groups at Grace Episcopal Church. He also enjoys working out at Argonauts Fitness in Paducah, hanging out with friends and reading historical and fantasy novels. His passion for the fantasy genre began when his grandmother gave him a box set of theChronicles of Narnia as a child.
Hancock is anticipating his graduation and the changes it will bring including moving to a larger city and attending a four-year college. Washington University in St. Louis is currently at the top of his list. He plans to major in history with a minor in medieval renaissance studies and then continue his education to law school or obtain a master's degree in history.
The multi-faceted student is still undecided as to his future career path but is considering law, becoming a history professor or screenwriter. He plans to study abroad while in college, with Florence, Italy, and Istanbul, Turkey, as his top choices. Hancock is ready for the new challenge of leaving home and the benefits to new freedom to tailor his own education, writing and research opportunities.
"I'm excited to live in a larger city, I love Paducah but it's time to get a taste for something else," he said.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.