"My peers are gone at school, and I do my school and work in the middle of the day," she said. "There's a lot more flexibility in how I can do things."
She's been home-schooled all her life.
Grace Silverstein, daughter of David and Eve Silverstein, 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 cash reward of $2,500 paid through the Paducah Sun if the student selects another college to attend.
Silverstein works 12 to 20 hours a week at the local restaurant, and she has her balancing act down to an art. After she comes home from work she continues with course work and takes online night classes. The work ends when she's finished, or when she gets too tired to keep going. The latter usually wins.
Her resume quickly dispels the myth that home school students don't get as much socialization or extra-curricular opportunity as those in public or private schools. Silverstein has been a part of McCracken County Teen Court for the entirety of her high school career, even giving a speech at the 2010-2011 swearing in ceremony. She played recreational soccer, played piano for 12 years, finished a junior triathlon and competed in the home school National Science Bowl team.
One of her favorite activities is Generation Joshua. The political group for conservative young people ages 11 to 19 has given her an opportunity to make a political difference even before she can legally cast her first ballot later this year. The group has lobbied, campaigned and learned as much as they can about the political process. Silverstein served as the president for two years, the secretary for two years and now fulfills the role of media coordinator.
She carries a 4.0 grade point average, and she scored a 34 on the ACT. Both of those are formidable tools in her arsenal as she applies to Vanderbilt University or the University of Alabama to study mechanical engineering. Silverstein hopes to jump into the innovative field of artificial intelligence or transportation.
District Judge W.A. Kitchen commented on Silverstein's poise and maturity in his recommendation letter for the teen. She said she's been comfortable working adults for most of her life. The ability to speak clearly and maintain a professional correspondence with adults, especially through the college application process, has been very advantageous.
The impressive concoction made up of hard-work, persistence and time management has carried Silverstein throughout her primary and secondary educational career. She'll carry it with her to college and beyond, wherever that may be.
"I guess as far as a career, I want to be a mechanical engineer and work maybe at NASA," she said plainly.