As a member of the 2018 graduating class, Karen Benson will be leaving MTHS with a powerful message to students, traveling 3000 miles to the next big step in her life.
Throughout her four years as a Hawk, Benson has been recognized multiple times for her academic excellence and has been very involved in the school through clubs and extracurricular activities.
Benson has been involved in track and field, FRC Robotics, STEM Leadership, American Sign Language (ASL) Honor Society, National Honor Society and IATRIX21.
Along with her extracurriculars, she held many leadership roles. Benson held positions such as treasurer her sophomore year and activities manager junior year in ASL Honor Society. In ASL Honor Society, she helped plan and participated in events including the Deaf Fiesta at Central Washington University and the Deaf Carnival at Seattle Children’s Hospital. These events involved leading games and activities with kids and helping them to translate between English and ASL.
For three years, Benson has also been involved in STEM leadership, where she helped organize and volunteered in outreach events. For example, Benson taught elementary and middle school students how to light LEDs using breadboards in these events.
Being academically driven, she has maintained a 4.0 throughout all of high school and will be graduating as a valedictorian. Throughout her four years at Terrace, she has taken a total of nine AP classes, one Running Start class, five STEM classes and several dual enrollment courses at both Edmonds Community College and Seattle Community College.
“I am most proud that I have handled these rigorous classes, keeping my grades up, running in my free time, volunteering at organizations outside of school such as the Deaf Fiesta, the Deaf Carnival, and Food Lifeline and working part time all four years of high school,” Benson said, adding that she’ll be running in her first half marathon June 12.
She will be attending Wellesley College in Massachusetts in the fall, where she has received more than $250,000 in scholarships. There, Benson will be pursuing a degree in biochemistry and hopes to attend graduate school, focusing on a degree in genetics.
Benson feels that if there was a legacy she is leaving behind, it would be her dedication to school work. As Benson grew up, she was surrounded by poverty and addiction and with this, there were no high expectations of her or pressure for her to go above and beyond in school.
“From a young age I knew I wanted to achieve academic success. I’ve worked hard throughout my years in school and it has got me here, planning on attending Wellesley College, my dream school.” Benson said.
With Benson’s hard work, she is attending Wellesley College with a $251,000 scholarship. Another part of the legacy she hopes to leave behind at MTHS is that “all students of different backgrounds can be successful in high school and beyond.”
At this point of Benson’s high school career, she is not nervous but as she looks back on her freshman year, it was the exact opposite. Benson would’ve never dared to go to a college more than an hour away from home as a freshman. This fall, she is headed to a school 3,000 miles away.
“Yet somehow as I’m approaching the end of high school and the beginning of this new stage in my life, I feel more excitement than fear,” Benson said. “I know this will hold big things for me and I can’t wait to obtain them all.”
If she could go back and tell her freshman self something, she would say, “I wish I could have told myself to take life less seriously.”
Benson remembers waking up at sunrise on countless weekends sitting at her kitchen counter studying until sunset. She believes this dedication to her learning has played a part in her success as a student, but it has taken a toll on her mental health throughout her high school career.
“If I could do it again, I would’ve taken more time with my friends and family, to enjoy life here in high school, while the chance is still here,” Benson said. “High school goes by so fast, don’t take for granted the time you have in these halls.”
Through her high school career, Benson expressed that she has grown immensely since freshman year.
“I feel like I am more confident than I was freshman year,” she said. “I used to be much more shy than I am currently. It made me very anxious to be in class, work in group projects, or be in big social groups.”
Benson believes working in food service such as soup kitchens has helped her to break her out of her shell.
“Though I still have moments where it’s overwhelming to be in a big group of people, I have become a lot more comfortable in myself in working with others,” she said.
With graduation being only a few weeks away, Benson is excited about the future, knowing it will hold big things for her and she can’t wait to go for them all.
Along with a high school diploma, Benson will also obtain an Honors STEM diploma.
“STEM has definitely gotten me more involved in the school, making me want to stay after school to work on projects or help out around the department,” she said.
Benson has really enjoyed teaching kids circuitry at outreach events such as MTHS’s annual STEM Middle School Camp at the beginning of the summer.
It makes Benson happy to encourage younger kids to get involved in STEM early, especially young girls. As a middle schooler, she was intimidated to go into a male dominated subject.
“Now, in STEM English 12, I am the only girl in my class,” she said. “I hope that other young girls find the same passion for STEM that I have and get involved in the field.”
As Benson graduates and moves on to the next big step in her life, she hopes to show that no matter who you are you and what background students come from, they deserve and can succeed in school.