Frederick sets sights on next challenge

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

For Liberty Hill Class of 2018 Salutatorian Tara Frederick, her sights have always been set on something more than just a job. At the end of her educational journey, she needed a purpose.

“I definitely want to do my part in helping to improve the world,” she said. “I think I have to have a job where I am helping others to give me a reason to wake up and want to go to work every morning. I’ve never had too many hobbies growing up, so there was never anything I was really close to one way or the other. I just felt like I needed something and I love to help people.”

Her achievements in high school have opened many doors, and while she is not sure about every step of that path, she will begin that journey next fall at Texas A&M as an engineering major.

“I’m thinking electrical engineering, but I’m not completely sure,” Frederick said. “I think I want to go into renewable energy or work on making hybrid or electric cars.”

The AP environmental science class she ended up in by accident led her to begin thinking of the environmental focus, and the engineering classes she took in high school helped pave the way.

Texas A&M is a top choice for engineering majors, but it was something else that settled the choice of a college experience for Frederick.

“(My sister) took me and my brother to a football game when I was 13 and I was just overwhelmed with the traditions and how kind everyone was,” she said. “I just knew this was where I wanted to go. It makes me excited because I know it is a school I will be very proud to go to.”

One of the primary drivers for Frederick through her high school career was the desire to make those around her proud, including her parents and teachers, especially science teacher Paul Rubin.

“I’ve enjoyed math, and English I have enjoyed a lot, too,” she said. “Science can be interesting, and it is not my best subject, but it is very interesting.”

At the end of their first semester, Frederick and valedictorian Hayden Luckadoo were tied for the top spot in their class, helping motivate her to work to stay near the top.

“It has always been easy for me to focus and get things done,” she said. “I was tied for first my freshman year after the first semester, so I’ve always been near the top and thinking it would be nice to graduate at the top of my class.”

The finish was not as clear cut as she might have hoped, first learning a few weeks ago she would finish in the second spot in the class, but last week learning it was still up in the air.

They had told me a few weeks ago I had gotten it and I was excited and relieved,” she said. “Then last week they came back and told me they didn’t know for sure, I’d have to wait,” she said. “It was stressful and I had a few test grades left that I needed to do really well on. It felt like starting over and having to make sure I did well on these last projects and putting in all the effort that I could.”

With a week left, she learned it was official and she could celebrate and see the pride in her parents and teachers.

“I’m very relieved and I’m excited,” she said. “I’m glad because I know my family is proud of me and I really wanted to make them proud. A lot of my teachers are proud of me, too, and that makes me really happy.”

It was not always easy, but Frederick never lost focus and relied on someone close to home for help.

“It was a lot of work trying to balance AP classes and dual-credit classes and making sure I am learning what I need to learn and preparing myself for the future, while also making sure my GPA remains high enough,” Frederick said. “I went with what felt right for me, but I also went to my sister for help because she is eight years older than me and she was top 10 percent of her class as well. I was able to ask her what she thought.”

In addition to all of the academic rigors, Fredrick looked to extracurricular activities as a place to relax and enjoy herself. Whether it was band, tennis for two years, or UIL two years, competing in editorial writing and copy editing, she made the most of her activities.

“I was in the color guard for the first three years, then I switched to marching band my senior year. Being in the stands on Friday night was definitely the most fun I’ve had,” she said, adding those things were very beneficial. “It is extremely important, and it made transitioning to high school easier and made it much more enjoyable. It helps relieve a lot of stress having that outlet, and being surrounded by friends at school.”

The transition from Liberty Hill High School to Texas A&M is one she knows will be a challenge.

“There will be some culture shock with how small Liberty Hill is versus how big A&M is,” Frederick said. “I will have to get used to the size and all the people.”

Spending all of her school years in Liberty Hill has allowed her close personal experiences Frederick believes she might have missed in a bigger place.

“I can look back and know I’ve known a lot of people for a long time,” she said. “I have a friend, Sara Mitchell, we’ve been best friends since third grade and that might not have been an opportunity at a bigger school.

“My kindergarten teacher came before senior breakfast and tried to get as many kids from her class together to take a picture with her. I don’t think you have chances like that at a bigger school. “

Whether it is a small town or a big school, Frederick believes she has the recipe for success.

“I’ve learned that if I want something I need to work for it, and if I work for it, normally I can achieve it if I put in enough time and effort,” she said. “I’ve also learned to rely on myself and not rely too much on others, to know my own capabilities and what I can achieve.”

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