Valedictorian Coleman looking forward to a future with purpose
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Sitting atop the Liberty Hill Class of 2019 is a satisfying accomplishment for Kennedy Coleman, but it is a perch from where she is eying a meaningful future of service.
The valedictorian, who has attended Liberty Hill schools since she was in first grade, has faced some medical issues in her young life, but rather than let doctor visits slow her down she’s used those experiences to reflect more on the plight of others.
Those experiences made her decision to set her sights on a future in medical research a natural fit. That journey begins next Fall at Rice University studying biology as she works toward a doctoral degree.
“It was seeing other kids every day and knowing that there’s a lot we don’t know about diseases and everything that made me want to go into it,” she said. “For me, my condition was not as bad as most other kids, so it was kind of sad to go in and see them.”
Finding an opportunity for her future wasn’t going to be enough for Coleman if it was only focused on benefiting her.
“It’s hard to really do anything important if you can’t find something that’s important for everyone,” she said. “If you’re just doing something that’s important for you, it may not affect other people like you want it to or it may not be able to help other people like you may want. Everybody wants to be able to do something that’s good for themselves and others around them.”
Classes in high school – such as her favorite calculus class – have helped prepare her for the next part of her journey, but it was how well-rounded her experience was in academics, sports and other activities that made the biggest difference.
“Things like NHS (National Honor Society) are important, too, because you are giving back to the community and it makes you feel good,” Coleman said. “It is always nice to go out and see other people who need the help and you get to do something for them. I might think my calculus class is hard, but these people have things even harder going on in their lives.”
Coleman had been at the top of the class for some time, and she never felt overwhelming pressure as long as she stuck to her plan.
“It was difficult, but it wasn’t super hard,” she said. “It was just making sure I studied at the right times and making sure I didn’t let everything get away from me by keeping organized.”
Academically, being able to be in class with other students who shared her love of math and science made it all more enjoyable.
“The part I enjoyed the most was getting to spend time with all the other kids who enjoy learning as much as I do,” she said. “I had one calculus class that had all of us nerds together in it, and I hate to call us nerds, but we’re nerds. It was a really great class and we had the best time because we were all ready to study, talk about our class and enjoy it.”
On the court and on the track, Coleman found another outlet.
“I really enjoyed playing all those,” she said. “I was best at tennis probably, but the sports were all super fun, and while tennis is more of an individual thing, the others were more team-focused. On the cross country team we always had so much fun and enjoyed team dinners and stuff like that.”
She participated in UIL Science as well, and putting all of her extracurricular activities together to compliment her academics helped balance her social life with school work.
“It was really important because a lot of my extracurricular activities was a way for me to spend time with other people,” she said. “I talk to people all the time and most of my friends see me as super outgoing, but I don’t always like leaving my house if I don’t have to and that gave me a reason to go out and be with people.”
It never took inspiration from others to keep Coleman focused, but the support and encouragement of her family went a long way.
“I’m extremely self-motivated so it’s not something that people usually would influence me on,” she said. “My parents were a big influence in encouraging me to work hard and things like that, but not in terms of being interested in one thing over another. They were supportive of whatever I chose to do as long as I did my best.”
Reflecting back on her years in Liberty Hill, Coleman is unable to pin down a particular moment or experience as her favorite, saying she instead feels grateful she was able to enjoy the whole journey so much.
“Everything about the school is amazing, so it is hard to narrow it down,” Coleman said. “I loved all my classes, loved my sports and I’ve had great friends. There’s just so much to remember. I did everything I wanted and still got to be first.”