Audrey Parkes, a third grade student at Sonora Elementary, plans to advance her medical aspirations this summer at a camp in Dallas. Eventually she wants to travel around the world helping patients who may not have access to doctors.
Wait! Parkes is only a third grader? How in the world did she start thinking like a pre-med college student?
“When I was younger I wanted to go into police work,” says Audrey. “My mom (Carlye, who works in the Sonora Elementary library) convinced me how fun it would be to be a doctor. Doctors can help people. I started reading books about the human body. My teacher (Amy Sandy) tells me I read books above my grade level.”
Sandy is the one who discovered the National Youth Leadership Forum: STEM that will take place in July at the University of Texas-Dallas. She applied for a spot for Audrey.
“It’s a camp that enables students to discover their passions, explore a career, make a difference and realize their dreams,” Sandy explains. “Audrey’s goal is to be a doctor. She’s already studying anatomy. At the conference they will study hearts, lungs and the brain. There will be some engineering, science and technology, too. That won’t be new to Audrey. She’s already in our EAST program.”
Audrey being part of the EAST program shouldn’t be a surprise, even though it is mostly for fourth and fifth graders. Sonora Elementary’s EAST just won its second Founder’s Award, given to the top EAST programs in the country. Sonora is still the only elementary school ever to win the Founder’s Award.
“I really like EAST because we solve community problems,” Audrey says. “My project was getting speed limit signs on our road. It is a dirt road that leads to our house. One day we were driving and almost got run off the road by a speeding car. Now we have a speed limit sign. It’s 25 miles per hour.”
Now that she has helped make her road safer, Audrey wants to help people live safe, healthy lives. Her eventual goal?
“I want to be a doctor who travels to places around the world where they don’t have doctors,” Audrey says. “I want to learn different languages and travel. My best friend is a missionary in Brazil. She is already out of college. We text each other.”
Her best friend is already out of college?
“My mom and her mom are great friends,” Audrey says. “That’s how we got to know each other.”
Inspired by her friend’s work, Audrey is anxious to attend the conference in Dallas and meet other students from all over the country. There’s only one catch. The cost is $2,395 and she is working to raise the funding.
“My great uncle donated $1,000 and we have a Go Fund Me page (Send Audrey to NYLF Pathway To Stem) that already has raised $200,” Audrey explains. “My mom and I have been making ear rings and are selling them at school and to anyone who would like to buy them. We’ve sold quite a few.”
Sandy and other teachers at Sonora proudly wear the ear rings they have purchased from Audrey.
“A lot of our teachers have purchased them,” Sandy says. “She will be selling them at the Springdale Schools Nutrition Association Craft Fair April 4 at Central Junior High. There will be other opportunities to sell them as well.”
Does Audrey think the conference will be worth the effort of raising the funds?
“Yes,” she responds. “My doctor (Rebekah Beyers) went to the same conference when she was in high school. She told me how fun it was and what a great experience it was.”
Audrey is already having fun in pursuing a career in medicine. She dressed up as a doctor at school and is enjoying selling the ear rings she and her mother have made. Her creativity, care for others, professional aspirations and innovative practices make Audrey Parkes a perfect example of the students who help make Springdale Public Schools #THEChoice.