This is the third of 20 profiles about The Gazette's Best and Brightest Class of 2014.
Most 7-year-olds hardly know how to care for themselves. Yet until her grandparents intervened, Haley McCarten was doing just that and tending to her younger sister.
Eventually, McCarten's grandparents were granted custody of the girls. "I worry a lot about how she feels since there's obviously a huge generational gap, we have different values because we're older" said McCarten's grandfather Ken Judd. "But my wife and I feel blessed that we were able to do this."
The experience of facing struggles at an early age is something that inspired McCarten to help others. This extends from school and community service activities to her aspirations of becoming a pediatrician. She's an active member of her church, St. Michael's Catholic Community Church at the Air Force Academy, where she plays flute and piano and helps with other activities.
The Pine Creek High School senior is one of five students elected to the school's executive council. In 2013, she was one of 50 students statewide selected for the Colorado State Patrol Youth Academy. These and other achievements belie what Judd said is a quiet demeanor.
"She is a quiet and positive influence," he said. "She's smart as heck with an incredible work ethic."
Stephanie Corniello, Pine Creek High School college career counselor, in her recommendation letter wrote of McCarten, "When life is tough, real signs of a person's character are formed. In Haley's case, her character is one that is resolute. There is no bitterness in her voice when she speaks of the past, only gratitude towards her grandparents . "
McCarten doesn't focus on the struggles she faced as a young child. Instead, she uses that experience as motivation and is quick to note that even though her early life was difficult, she would not change a thing.
"I would not be the person I am today without those experiences," she said.