High School: Lewis County High School
Plans for after graduation: Law hopes to land a career in engineering or computer science. After that, she says, she is considering studying business and working her way to the top of wherever she chooses to work.
For some, the best adventures are in the journey, not the destination. And for Lewis County High School student Sarah Law, accomplishment is about results — that moment where you hold in your hands the fruits of long, dedicated work.
Law is one of three students in West Virginia selected to receive a full-ride scholarship to a college of her choosing through the 2012 EQT Students of Excellence scholarship program. And much of that is due to Law's long list of accomplishments, dedication to hard work and generally making a good impression on the people along the way.
"I have two young daughters, and often I dream of who they will become," wrote Jena Petit, Law's teacher. "I think every parent does this — pictures her child's future. Beyond physical appearance, we wonder about the even bigger characteristics: her personality, her interests, her ethics, and her goals. But we know, to our core, who we, as parents, want them to be, what we want for them as they grow up.
"And as I began writing this narrative, I realized that, subconsciously, when I've pictured my little girls as teenagers, I've pictured one of my finest students, Miss Sarah Law."
Law is a self-starter. On a recent autumn afternoon, Law spent her free time on a self-guided ACT preparation class, studying up as much as she could for the test scheduled for the next morning. She had already spent several periods of self-study on the test and had been meeting with her calculus teacher.
"My parents are very supportive, but I would say I'm very self-motivated," Law said. "I like being the best. I've got big dreams," she said.
When Law found out she had won EQT's full-ride scholarship she said she "screeched a little bit" and began calling her family members because she knew she had just knocked down one of the biggest hurdles to her dreams — paying for college. Now, scholarship research she had been doing could give way to more research about the nation's best computer science and engineering programs.
"I really want to work with technology," Law said. "I've always had a particular interest in it. I'd like to create my own programs."
Law's self-motivation has already led her to engage in her own studies of Java Script through the online Code Academy.
"I don't want to go to college and be completely clueless, because it's not like we have computer sciences classes at school," Law said. "I'm trying to learn it on my own and get ahead."
Most high school-age students are more familiar with the games coding produces — not the complex language and algorithms of code behind it. Law, however, is intrigued with the notion of creating business-oriented and problem-solving programs.
"I'm an avid Apple user. Whenever they come out with new operating systems, I love seeing how they can make life so much easier," Law said. "I find myself pointing out problems with it, like this could go a different way or this could be made easier. I like picking away at problems and trying to make things better."
Her interest in computer science, she said, is inspired by her father who, she says instilled an inner love of seeing a completed product. The feeling of creating something, Law said, drives her love of art class as much as the solutions to trigonometry problems.
"There's something about being able to see a finished project," she said.
Law and her father have worked on numerous projects, including making a jewelry box. Along the way, Law picked up a few skills many academically oriented high schoolers miss out on, such as the finer points of operating a band saw.
"He's probably my biggest inspiration," Law said of her father. "He's a genius."
Law is still shopping for schools, so trying to figure out where she's going to settle down afterward is a question she can't answer right now.
"It's hard to tell," she responds to the question. "Obviously the tech industry is out West, but I don't particularly want to be out West. I love West Virginia. I'd like to stay along the East Coast."
In studying different programs, she has spotted a few programs where students are given an opportunity to create their own projects from computer parts in university laboratories. The labs piqued her interest.
"That just sounds so cool to me to do that," Law said. "I don't think I'll waste a lot of time in college."
Aside from her studies, Law's also big on tennis. "That's my main thing," she says, adding that she's gone to the state tournament twice. "Other than that I just study."
Law makes money on the side at school filming, editing and selling video of soccer matches. The job was given to her because of dependability and her ability to get things done.
"One of the greatest things about Sarah is if she says she's going to get something done, she does it," Petit said. "I don't have to stay on top of her to get it done."
Law will say she's disinterested in pursuing politics, but adds that everyone else thinks differently.
"She's going to be in politics somehow," Petit said. "She says she's not, but she is. … She is actively involved in politics and has lots of opinions on politics."
Law, Petit said, is a joy to teach.
"I wish I had seven classes of Sarah. It would be so much easier most days," Petit joked, glancing at Law, who shared a laugh. "A lot of kids these days will read what you assign them, or Cliff note what you assign them, but they aren't doing any extra reading. … Sarah is not like that."