The U.S. presidential election cycle in 2016 helped draw Colby Edwards more into politics.
"I feel like politics is one of the best ways that anyone can actually create some changes," Edwards said. "Just because, like, if you get elected to an office or you're a government worker or something like that, you're pretty much going to be a source of direct change in a way."
The 18-year-old Marshall County High School senior plans to attend the University of Louisville this fall, where he's considering a political science major. He's also interested in a communications minor or urban and regional analysis.
Politics is also captivating for Edwards because of the diversity of ideas and he wants to get more insight on political science in college. The 2016 election led him to think more about how decisions are made and how he "wants to be a part" of that.
"That whole election cycle was just unique in its own way," he said.
Due to his age, Edwards described it as the first time he's really experienced a "surge of diverse ideas."
"That (election) just drew me in, to form my opinions and want to be involved in the political process," he said. "And I know how important it is to everyone, especially to me."
Edwards, son of Chris and Kelly Edwards of Benton, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Each Monday and Tuesday, The Sun publishes profile stories on area high school seniors chosen from a pool of nominees for Teen of the Week consideration. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee will select one of these students as Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive an Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Edwards is a top student at Marshall County High School with a weighted grade-point average of 4.25 and an unweighted 3.93. He is an AP Scholar with Distinction and earned a 31 composite ACT score.
Last summer, Edwards attended the Governor's Scholars Program at Centre College where he studied communication and social theory.
"You're around people who just support you and help you develop and what not," he said. "It was more like a discussion-based sort of education enrichment experience that I had. It just broadened my horizons and introduced me to diverse cultures. It also helped me develop a network of friends that I can rely on if I do need help."
At Marshall County, Edwards served as co-captain of the academic team and is involved with Young Democrats and Kentucky Junior Historical Society, among other extracurricular activities. He participates in the Marshall County Democratic Party Executive Committee and was selected for the U.S. Senate Youth Program.
His community involvement includes volunteering for an after-school technology club that he started at Jonathan Elementary School in Benton. He's also worked in political campaigns, such as canvassing, sign delivery, Get Out The Vote initiatives, phone banking and volunteer recruitment.
High school graduation is right around the corner for Edwards. He's already looking forward to college at Louisville.
"It's going pretty well," he said, about senior year. "I've had a slight case of 'senioritis,' but yeah, it's going well. I feel a little bit more relaxed since I'm about to graduate."