But the prospect failed to intimidate Eileen Doan, who decided to take the plunge into the college experience a few years before her peers.
Doan spent her freshman and sophomore years at Lone Oak High School, and then transferred to the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Bowling Green. When she graduates, she’ll receive a diploma from Lone Oak, as well as the academy.
“It was an experience I knew I was going to have to take anyway when I went to college, so I thought it would be good for me to try it now and get used to it,” she said.
Although the choice to attend Gatton meant leaving her comfort zone, Doan said her time at the residential high school has proven worthwhile.
“It’s pretty much the best decision of my life. It’s been a really eye opening experience,” she said.
Eileen Doan, daughter of Minh and Jennifer Doan, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees whom guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois submit 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.
Doan said her studies at Gatton have fostered an interest in criminal psychology, which she hopes to study in college. Examining the reasons why criminals do what they do interests her, she said, but the career path will have its challenges.
“Looking into all those things, it can get pretty dark. And I feel like I would need a lot of grounding,” she said.
But Doan is confident that she has the mental stability to pursue her interest. In general, she manages to stay balanced by finding time to relax, she said.
When she feels stressed, Doan will open Photoshop to work on graphic editing projects, write stories, or just let loose and sing.
“I’ll pretend my room is a giant stage, and sing and dance and do a lot of crazy stuff,” she admitted. “It really helps keep me sane. If I tried to study for seven hours straight after classes, I’d probably pass out.”
Doan said that succeeding at Gatton Academy required her to learn how to manage her own time. She takes about three or four classes a day, including a demanding Russian language course, which she said is her favorite.
Doan believes her parents helped to foster much of the self-motivation on which she relies today. She said they encouraged her to finish her work and pushed her to be involved in extracurricular activities, such as piano lessons, from an early age.
“The piano lessons I’ve been doing about nine years, but I’m pretty sure the first seven of them were forced,” she laughed. She added that in recent years, she’s come to realize just how much she enjoys playing the piano.
Doan is also involved in drama and musical theater. Her next role will be in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”
When asked what draws her to acting, Doan said, “It’s just the feeling of taking off your own personality and putting on something else, and being able to try to be a different character.”
Christopher Bowen, assistant director of counseling services at the academy, noted Doan’s academic excellence and involvement in all the campus has to offer. But the most impressive of Doan’s traits, he wrote, is her character.
“I have had many in-depth conversations with Eileen, and I can honestly express that she is one of the most humble, accepting, and open minded students I have met,” he wrote.
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.