Since eighth grade, Layla Pennington has been determined to excel during her high school years. Her goal? To be named the valedictorian of the Class of 2021. And as her dad said, “She killed it!”

High school has not been all about academics, though. Pennington claims that the best thing she’s done is participating in soccer. The high school team has had a couple of great seasons, and she was the team captain this year as a senior. It’s been an especially good experience in terms of improving her team building skills and her leadership skills. She also served as a referee at several soccer games, including at some of her younger sister’s games. At those games, Pennington found herself turning into the big sis coach who wanted to yell directions at her little sis. She had to steel herself to be the ref.

Pennington’s experiences in National Honor Society have pushed her out of her comfort zone, she said, as she was asked to participate in community service. Last year she tutored a fifth grader for several months.

Pennington plans to study something in the field of medicine, perhaps pharmaceuticals. Her ideal job would be working in a lab and doing medical research. She is currently visiting colleges and making applications as she heads toward making a definite college choice.

Pennington knows she’s arrived at this spot because she worked hard to make it here, and the result is rewarding. She couldn’t be more grateful and thankful for the opportunities that have come her way.