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Award winner not resting on laurels

Laura Sharkey finished second in the class that graduated last month from Lockport High School, but that was only one of the reasons why the Town of Lockport named her its outstanding youth of 2007.

She also is a tutor for children at Lockport's Roy B. Kelley Elementary School, a member of Model U.N., a musician, an athlete and a volunteer for Niagara Hospice.

Laura, the daughter of Robert and Lynn Sharkey, is on her way to the University of Rochester to study in the premed program. She also might fit in some piano lessons.

When did you find out about the Outstanding Youth Award?

The woman who set the whole thing up, Councilwoman [Cheryl A.] Antokowiak, was trying to contact me several times. She kept getting my mom because I was always at work. I finally found out about two weeks before it was announced. I was really excited. It's really a great honor because I was representing the community by winning that award.

You tutor kids at Roy B. Kelley?

At the beginning of the school year, I was in a volunteer club called Key Club, and me and my best friend volunteered to tutor a few times a week for the fifth-graders for their [English language arts] exam. There were probably about 10 kids there. We worked with all of them.

Do you like to read?

Well, most of the time I read only the stuff they assign at school because I don't have time to do anything else. When I was a little kid I liked to read mystery stories. Nancy Drew was my favorite.

What's Model U.N. about?

You form small groups in school and then you compete against other schools. You represent a country and you debate issues that are of importance to those countries. We were Nigeria the first time, and then I was Pakistan the second time. It's hard to to relate to those countries because they're so different from the United States, but I think the position of the people in Nigeria with the different groups who are struggling for recognition, I didn't sympathize with those people.

What instrument do you play?

I've been playing the clarinet since the fourth grade. I made All-County Band the last three years.

Is that something you think you'll continue?

At the University of Rochester, they have the Eastman School of Music, and the students are able to take free music lessons. I started teaching myself piano, and I want to take lessons in that.

Did you ever consider music as a career, or did you always want to be a doctor?

When I was first starting out in high school, I was taking art classes, and my art teacher suggested that I should be an art major, and I thought about it, but I always liked science the best.

What appeals to you about science?

For some things, there's always an explanation, but there are still things that can be researched and a lot we don't know.

What sort of medical specialty would you want to get involved in?

I don't know yet. I'll have to do some research when I get to college. I thought about cardiology.

You were on the track team. What was your event?

I had a lot of events. I started off doing the 100-meter and 200-meter. Then I switched to more field events, and I did the high jump and long jump. The one year, I ended up with really bad shin splits, and I wanted to switch. [At the junior varsity Niagara Frontier League meet], my 4-by-100 relay team came in first. In the 200 I think I came in third that year. I didn't do varsity. I did exhibition.

How well did you jump?

In the high jump, my best was 4-4. In the long jump, I think it was 12 1/2 [feet].

How did you get involved with Niagara Hospice?

My friend's mom works there. I've been doing that since 10th grade. Mostly what we do is help out with the benefit dinners. We helped out with the butterfly release. We made Christmas cards for people and we do a lot of setup and cleanup for events.

Why did you choose the University of Rochester?

The reason was because they don't have a core curriculum. They have an open curriculum so you can take what you want to take. I just wanted to dive right in [to premed] and not bother with stuff that I'm not that interested in.

Did you get a scholarship from there?

I got the Wilder Trustee scholarship. It's $10,000 every year.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Well, probably still in school or doing my residency somewhere. Hopefully with a family, or least the makings of one.

Do you think that women can have it all?

I think so. It's going to be hard to balance it, but I think it's possible.


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