Trinity STAR student aspires to improve world through engineering

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2016

NATCHEZ — Trinity Episcopal Day School STAR Teacher, Gwen Young, said this year’s STAR Student, Brooke Wiley, has a rare maturity for balancing her passions with also being pragmatic.

Though English is Wiley’s favorite subject, she’s looking to become a civil engineer. Wiley said the Miss-Lou has actually helped inspire her to make that career choice.

“The infrastructure is just terrible, and I feel like I could improve it,” the 18-year-old senior said with a smile. “I understand math pretty well and feel like it’s a solid field with a lot of jobs.”

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Young, who has taught Wiley since the eighth grade, also played an indirect role in that career choice.

“In the 10th grade, Mrs. Young made us write a paper on prospective careers,” Wiley said. “I was actually researching architecture, but in doing that research I discovered there was a greater need for engineers.”

The Mississippi Economic Council gives out the STAR Student award each year to students who both do well academically and on the ACT test.

Wiley has an unweighted GPA of 4.0 and an ACT score of 29. She said she didn’t expect to be named STAR Student.

“There is another girl in my class, and we have close to the same GPA — I thought she’d get it,” she said. “I was just really excited when they told me, and I also felt really honored.”

Young was the obvious choice to be STAR Teacher, Wiley said.

“She just always challenged me to be a better writer and has helped me learn how to pick apart books,” she said. “She also gave me a better understanding of poetry, which wasn’t always so easy.”

This is the 10th time Young has been named a STAR Teacher. The English instructor, who plans to retire after this year, said it was an honor to be selected by Wiley.

“Brooke is someone I think highly of,” Young said. “She is a student with the rare balance of pragmatism, imagination and passion.

“She is also service and goal oriented; she’s just been a tremendous asset to this school and community.”

The daughter of Dalton and Kristine Wiley, Brooke is the youngest of five. Wiley said her parents have always encouraged her to do well.

“By the time they got to me, they had learned that if I was going to do well, it would be on my own merits,” she said. “They were pretty hands off.”

Young said Wiley was always well-grounded.“You never had to steer Brooke,” Young said. “She always had her ship pointed right.”

“I don’t know about all that,” Wiley said, laughing. “I just always wanted to do well.”

Volunteering in the community has always been a passion of Wiley’s, she said.

“One of the biggest things I’ve done has always been the Natchez Festival of Music,” she said. “I’ve been doing that since the eighth grade.”

Wiley plans to attend Louisiana Technical College in the fall.

“It’s the best engineering college in the state,” the Vidalia resident said. “And because it’s on the quarter system, I might be able to finish in three years and start working.”

All she has to do come fall is pack her things and move in to the school.

“I’m not really nervous,” she said. “Change is good. I’m ready.”