The 17-year-old Massac County High School senior plays golf, cheered last year and is on the soccer and bowling team this year. A look at Sommer's planner, she said, gives a reasonable picture of how busy she stays with all her activities. In everything she does, Sommer said she wants to find a way to give back.
During the spring flooding that devastated numerous families in her community, Sommer spent hours sandbagging to try and salvage the valuables and mementos of friends and strangers.
"It didn't make me feel good for my own benefit," Sommer said. "It made me feel good because I was able to give back."
Her volunteer experience exhibits the diversity of her interests. Sommer said she loves involving her family in her philanthropic work. Whether it's working in her church nursery with her mom or helping with archery tournaments with her dad, Sommer is involved in promoting community and family ties on many levels.
Though she wears sparkling earrings and delicate accessories, Sommer said she likes embracing the things that aren't so stereotypically girlie. Hunting with her dad is one of her favorite activities. She likes to shop with her mom just as much as the next high-schooler, but Sommer said she'd always rather be outdoors.
Elaney Sommer, daughter of Debra and Larry Sommer, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees that high school guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois submit to the Sun. Mid-Continent University will provide each Teen of the Week with a $2,500 annual scholarship to its university, which is renewable for four years. In the spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners and will receive a full four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent University, currently valued at up to $55,000, or a scholarship award of $2,500 paid through the Paducah Sun if the student selects another college to attend.
Sommer is ranked sixth in her class and carries a GPA of 3.93. She's taken numerous Advanced Placement courses, and sheparticipates in many clubs at Massac County High School. Sommer jumps into in every Key Club activity offered, according to teacher Grayson Dawes. Key Club is a volunteer-based organization that works with local chapter of the Kiwanis Club.
Outside of school, Sommer has been in Girl Scouts since she was in kindergarten. She said it not only gave her access to scholarships, but also a chance to become the strong mentor she benefited from in her own adolescence.
Sommer thanks her parents for their constant support of her busy schedule. Academically, she said her grandmother has been an important impetus.
"She helped us grow up in life and let us know that everything wasn't going to be handed to us," Sommer said.
She embraces that attitude as she continues working through her senior year. Sommer hopes to attend University of Southern Illinois in Evansville and pursue occupational therapy.