White made the trip with 14 other members of Generation Joshua, a political organization for home-schooled students.
"I like to be involved in government and informed," she said. "It's our future, and we need to be involved and stay educated on what's going on."
White said a common misconception of home-schoolers is that they are less active in community and social activities than peers at traditional schools. But one look at White's schedule — which includes volunteering, working, going on mission trips, and practicing the piano — dispels that myth.
"I think some people think that we have less opportunity because we're home schooled," White said. "But because of our flexibility with our time, sometimes we can have even more opportunities," she said.
Jaclyn White, daughter of Jeremy and Sharon White of Paducah, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees who 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. The Teen of the Year is eligible for a full four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent University or a cash award of $2,500, paid through the Paducah Sun, if the student selects another college to attend.
White begins her day at 7:30, scheduling her studies around her volunteer work and other obligations. In addition to her home curriculum, White takes two classes at West Kentucky Community & Technical College, and is set to start college next fall with 16 credit hours out of the way.
Although her parents help keep her on track, White has learned that being a self starter is key to success as a home schooler.
"You do have to be motivated. You have to plan out an end and a start time for yourself. ...If someone didn''t really care about their studies, I guess that would be a struggle," she said.
White's commitment extends to her volunteer efforts at Hope Unlimited, where she has helped with fundraising events and worked in the clothing closet since 2006. She says a simple motto — "Love God, love people" — inspires her to give back.
"It's my faith in God that drives what I do, and how I should love people and serve them," she said.
White has put words into action by participating in several mission trips in Mexico and Central America. She said her favorite experience was a 2010 trip to El Salvador with Paducah's Starfish Orphan Ministry, where she cleaned orphanage restrooms, did crafts with children, and gave out meals.
"It was hard, but I learned a lot. I loved serving people in that way," she said.
White may even make a career of her passions, studying social work and music at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ky.
"I want to study people and behaviors and learn how I can better serve people," she said.
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.