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Kayla Flick gets a lot of her interests and passions from her family, which was evident in an exchange between her and Streetsboro High School Principal James Hogue, discussing the health merits of hot dogs.
The Streetsboro High School valedictorian said they're loaded with carcinogens and a really lousy thing to eat because they could lead to cancer.
Hogue, joking, came to the defense of hot dogs, and carcinogens in general.
"I think carcinogens get a bad rap," he joked. "I don't think they really cause cancer."
"Are you kidding me?" she said. "That's literally the definition of 'carcinogen.'"
Streetsboro High School biology teacher Dr. Tracey Schneeman, Kayla's aunt, later reported having same conversation, almost verbatim, with Hogue earlier in the day. It wasn't the only time the pair were on the same wave length, Schneeman said.
"There have been times when we've said exactly the same thing in class at the same time," she said.
Kayla plans to follow in the footsteps of Schneeman, who has earned a doctorate in molecular immunology, and her mother, who's in biomedical engineering.
"I like the sciences the best," Kayla said. "I'm going into pre-med biology. I like chemistry and biology the best."
Kayla said her mom helped foster her interest in science as a young child.
"We would go camping and stuff and just spend a lot of time outside," she said. "When you're outside, you get to study different trees, and I would ask my mom why one tree is this way and another one was that way. As kids, we would find tadpoles and watch them grow into frogs. I like to look at how things work."
She will continue looking at how things work at the Ohio State University in the fall. She also hopes to get a closer look at some football games while she's there.
"I think it's a good distance from home; I can't come home every weekend, but its not too far," she said of OSU. "I'm definitely excited about seeing football games."
Once Kayla's done with undergraduate work, she plans to continue on to graduate school and eventually conduct lab work.
"It just seems like it'll be something different every day," she said.
Schneeman said a career in lab work tends to progress in phases. At first, it's exciting to be involved in studies of any kind, but then, things can change.
"At first, everything's new, then it gets kind of mundane, and then, if you get to the level where you're the grant writer and getting the kind of funding you seek, then new challenges can come about," she explained.
She said science is a good match for Kayla.
"I really feel she could do anything," she said. "I'm really glad she chose science because I think that will present her with more problems to be challenged by."
Joe Huber, student liaison at the high school, said Kayla's been a well-rounded leader among her peers.
"She isn't shy, but she's definitely quiet," he said. "She knows she's good; she knows she's smart, but you aren't ever going to see it coming from her."
Huber said Kayla's classes this year included Advanced Placement biology, Advanced Placement statistics, Advanced Placement English, Advanced Placement psychology and weight lifting.
"In weight training, she was one of the ones who took it seriously," he added.
Kayla also captained the volleyball and basketball teams and ran track this spring.
In addition, she also served as president of both student council and National Honor Society this year, as well as chairing a blood drive at the school.
Huber, who gets to know many students as he helps them with scholarships, said he will particularly miss Kayla.
"She ranks up with the very, very best because seeing her interact with her friends, you'd never guess how talented, how intelligent she is," he said.
Her roots in Streetsboro are deep, she added.
"I've been in Streetsboro all my life," said Kayla. "My parents and grandparents all went to Streetsboro."
She said her senior year flew by. She urged students to try to participate as fully as possible in high school life during their senior years.
"It really does fly by," she said. "Don't be one of those seniors who says, 'Oh, I'm so ready to be out of here.' Don't be too cool to go to the football games or basketball games. Enjoy whatever you have left, and then you'll be ready to move on."