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Best and Brightest: Palmer High student's obstacles are challenging, not limiting

By: ELIZABETH EDEN Special to The Gazette
April 16, 2018 Updated: April 16, 2018 at 6:50 pm
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This is the second of 20 profiles of The Gazette's Best and Brightest Class of 2018.

Palmer High School Senior Summer Wilson loves to read and write poetry, fiction and songs. One of her favorite books is "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. "That book resonated with me intensely. I recognized how similar my family was to the Walls," Summer told her English teacher, Todd Hegert.

She has overcome significant obstacles.

"I suppose I have always known we were poor, as I have been peeling eviction notices off my front door since I was too small to reach them," Summer said. "Poverty is something that has affected my life greatly."

But, she said, "I consider myself a self-starter. I learned to embrace this poverty as my greatest motivator."

Summer has maintained a weighted 4.5 GPA in the rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Palmer High.

"I often felt trapped in my situation, but that has motivated me to excel as a student. I know that education is the key to following one's dreams and creating one's own future," she said.

Summer also has volunteered at Penrose Public Library as a member of its Teen Advisory Board and has participated in many National Honor Society service projects. She is president of Palmer Live, her school's live performance club, and is on its Spoken Word Poetry Team.

"Her poems show the travails of teenage love and relationships, but with a depth of intellect and allusions to literature and classical mythology that give her work a more universalized, timeless dimension," Hegert said.

Summer will attend the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in the fall to pursue a degree in secondary education. She has received multiple scholarships, including the UCCS Chancellor Award. She was selected as an Urbanites Leading the Pikes Peak Scholar, a Bruce & Anne Shepard Reach Your Peak Scholar and a Kane Family Foundation Kane Scholar.

After graduating from college, Summer hopes to teach English, obtain a master's degree in education and become a school counselor. "I want to ensure that no student ever feels as helpless or limited by their financial situation as I have," she said. "I hope that I can help kids see the freedom and hope that education can offer. I hope my own story of success may inspire them."

Hegert said her student will succeed. "Her love of poetry, writing and literature will have a powerful effect on her students someday," he said. "And even more importantly, her character and life may be the most valuable lesson she has to offer to inspire her students to rise above the circumstances they have been dealt."

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