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Mason Romanak is fascinated by sociology, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic that’s gripped and altered much of the world in 2020.

“I think it’s just the study of society and how it functions, combining all the social sciences together in a way — economics, psychology — just to figure out how we humans interact with each other the way that we do,” he said.

The 17-year-old Paducah Tilghman High School senior explained that observing how the pandemic changed things helped spark an interest in sociology. He started watching “all kinds of lectures” and listening to podcasts about the different changes the coronavirus is going to have.

“Like there’s always another layer to everything, as opposed to maybe one of the harder sciences, like biology or something, where at some point you’ve reached the end of what science can tell you,” he added.

At this point, Romanak is planning to study the subject in college.

“I’m really interested in the idea of excess, in the way that it can kind of change things,” he said.

“Obviously, you have like excess of food in the Agricultural Revolution and it changed everything and then industrial excess, but right now, we have informational excess with the internet and I think that is so fascinating.”

Romanak, son of Eric and Denise Romanak of Paducah, 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 group of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a committee names 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.

Romanak has earned a 4.294 weighted cumulative GPA at Paducah Tilghman, ranking him fifth in the class. He received a 35 composite ACT score and is an AP Scholar with Honor. Romanak is also a National Merit Commended Student.

He’s been involved in the environmental sustainability club, the Prime Rib and Another Shade of Blue a cappella groups, National Honor Society and other activities. In music, Romanak attended Governor’s School for the Arts for instrumental music last year and was first chair for double bass in the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) All-State Symphony Orchestra in 2020.

Romanak said he’s played the double bass for years.

“GSA was probably one of the most instructive experiences of my life, not only musically, but also socially, you’re put in tank with 300 other kids who don’t know anything about, but you all have one thing in common and it’s that you want to create your art,” he said.

As for what’s next, Romanak said he’s been trying get acclimated to changes in school, such as with virtual instruction, for his senior year. He’s looking at several colleges for undergraduate study, including University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Indiana University Bloomington and Vanderbilt University.

“I’m excited for college and I’m excited to see the end of the pandemic, but I’m especially excited to see what kinds of change this brings,” he said.

“And going into sociology, I think the field is going to be more interesting and there’s going to be more interesting research than there has ever been.”

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