LA CENTER, Ky. - Ballard Memorial High School senior Lydia Grogan is motivated by lots of things.
Her parents pushing for her best.
Her desire to keep up her 3.9 grade-point average, go to college and work in the health care industry as a nurse.
A group of incarcerated women known as Ladies Living Free.
"It's an organization in Paducah that is for incarcerated women who are trying to better their life," Grogan said. "They are able to come live at this organization, and it helps them get set back into society."
The 17-year-old cheerleader read Scripture to the inmates, cooked meals with them and came away knowing where she didn't want to end up.
"It's a different way of looking at things," Grogan said. "You know you want to try your best to stay out of that situation."
She took the lessons to heart.
Grogan, daughter of Kim and Randy Grogan, is the Murray State University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MSU Teen of the Week selected from nominees submitted by high school guidance counselors in western Kentucky and southern Illinois.
In May, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners, earning a $5,000 scholarship to Murray State.
Teen of the Week is part of the Sun's Newspaper in Education program.
Grogan's drive in the classroom matches her willingness to help in her community, according to her teachers.
"In class, Lydia could always be expected to ask challenging and thought-provoking questions," said Steven Quertermous, a history teacher at Ballard Memorial High School. "She has a natural curiosity and a drive to learn."
The school's psychometrist, a professional who develops testing models, said she's had the pleasure of watching Grogan develop since second grade.
"I have watched Lydia mature into a very responsible young lady," Cathy Drummond said. "She has always scored top honors on the Kentucky state testing. And she has a big heart and is kind to others."
Grogan has a knack for getting involved with helping others. She's a lifeguard in the summer. She qualified for the school's student ambassador program, which focuses on high-achieving students committing to community service to be visible leaders for others.
And in her rare down time, Grogan still thinks ahead. The aspiring nurse loves watching "Grey's Anatomy" because "it's got all the drama, and it shows the stuff you'd actually do in health care." She hopes to attend Murray State University and study in the nursing program. If the past is any indication, she won't need much help, socially or academically, achieving that goal.
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.