At McCracken County High School (MCHS), there’s one student who wants to cure Alzheimer’s disease. You’ll often find her at a basketball game waving pompoms.
Caleigh Propes cares very little for stereotypes.
The senior says she has not only won a national championship with the school’s competitive cheer team but she also competes on the debate team, serves on the academic team—where she ranks fifth in Kentucky for composition—and captains the Future Problem Solving Team. She was even selected to represent Kentucky in the 2013 Future Problem Solving Program International Conference.
"I really love learning, and I’ve always just kind of pushed to do something else because I hate being bored," she explains. "I like to get things done, and I’m very task-oriented. I don’t like to be idle, and that’s just resulted in me throwing myself into anything I can find in high school."
At the moment, she throws herself into a variety of activities—which includes serving as the MCHS Future Business Leaders of America president and as a certified Future Problem Solving evaluator. But, in the future, she says, she plans to focus on science and medicine. She wants to study and to change the way many people are aging.
"People in my family—some of my great-grandmothers—had dementia, and I’ve been really looking into it through my research this year," she says. "And, I just think it’s really devastating but also really interesting because the brain’s what makes us human."
Research has long been a part of Caleigh’s life. She says she has completed a research project every year since entering high school. As a freshman, she researched creativity in elementary school students for her Advanced Placement Biology class, and she began coaching the Heath Elementary Future Problem Solving Team as a part of the project. Her advanced placement and honors classes have kept her researching new subjects every year since.
Now, her hard work has paid off. Caleigh says she has earned early acceptance to Yale University, although she hasn’t officially decided to attend. She’s still exploring schools—deciding which will host her quest to study molecular, cellular and developmental biology and to earn medical and doctoral degrees. Eventually, she wants to practice medicine part-time while also conducting research to study and cure cognitive disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
This direction, Caleigh says, will combine two of her greatest passions: service and science.