For fear of Abigail Taylor getting a big head, perhaps it’s best not to mention she’s something special.
Taylor, 17, was recently awarded a $1,000 scholarship at the conclusion of Girls State on the campus of Washburn University in Topeka, and was voted from among her 226 peers as one of two to attend Girls Nation.
The national convention is from July 25 to Aug. 1, in Washington, D.C.
Winning the scholarship also makes Taylor eligible to win one of 12 national scholarships valued at $20,000.
“I’m pretty happy with the one from state,” Taylor said.
An incoming senior at Iola High School, Taylor plans to attend Brigham Young University in Utah, the same school her parents, Jen and Ben Taylor, attended.
Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion and focuses on civics. The girls enact a mock government where they hold elections and debate current events.
Taylor said her participation in Forensics, an extra-curricular activity at school, helped prepare her for such a setting.
In competitions against other schools, Taylor participates in improvisational speaking where students must think up short speeches on a variety of subjects in a matter of minutes.
“It’s taught me to think on my feet,” she said.
At the national convention, Taylor and her partner must come prepared with a legislative bill they hope their peers will endorse.
At this point, the duo have settled on voter identification laws as their legislation.
While in D.C., the girls will get to visit numerous museums and tour the White House.
The biggest treat?
“We’ll get to meet with President Obama,” she said.
TO BE selected as a scholarship winner Taylor said a person’s overall accomplishments are considered, including community service, ACT scores, grades in school, and essay submissions.
“I enjoy writing, so I’m guessing my essays were strong,” she said. “I also enjoy volunteering at church and the library.”
Taylor has a passion for music. She plays the french horn in the high school band and is an accomplished pianist.
And to finish the circle — mind, spirit, body — Taylor is also an athlete, running track and cross country.
She’s also game for trying new things.
Shortly after school let out she joined a group of youths to participate in a “pioneer trek” in northern Oklahoma.
For three days the youths reenacted the pioneer days, including dressing in the garb of the early 1800s, toting their gear in pushcarts as they walked across the plains, and camping out under the open skies.
“We walked about 5 to 6 miles a days. It was like an extreme workout,” she said of the popular exercise regimen. “I was never so glad to come home to air conditioning.”
“It made me appreciate the hardships my ancestors experienced.”
TAYLOR also has a good perspective on her remaining time as a high school student.
“A lot of people think high school is just about having fun,” she said. “I try to have a balance of work and fun.
“I try to lay out goals and be as sure as possible nothing sabotages those goals before they have a chance to happen.”