This is one of a series of reports publishing through the end of May about some of the outstanding seniors in the Class of 2012.
EAST NAPLES — When Katie Hogan took chemistry during her junior year at Lely High School, she was hooked.
"Everyone was complaining about how hard it was," Katie said as she sat in the library on her last day of school. "I said, 'It's not hard, it's easy.' I ended up helping other students. Science has always been easy for me."
So she asked her mother, Jackie, a pharmaceutical rep, what career was most like chemistry and began working toward that goal.
"Some jobs aren't needed anymore, but people always need medicine," the 18-year-old said. "Pharmacology, I feel like it will always be there."
Katie, who has a 3.869 gpa, is Lely's 2012 Graduate of Distinction. She juggled a full course load in addition to being an award-winning sports captain, volunteering and completing an online pre-calculus class for an extra math credit.
"It takes a lot of self-motivation," said Chris Black, the school's librarian and media specialist, who saw her working online every day. "Math is not an easy subject without someone to teach you."
Black, the school running coach and Katie's coach since seventh grade, called her "one of the best," a seventh-grader who excelled and continued getting better.
"No matter what she does, whether it's athletics or school work, she does whatever you ask her to and she does her best — and always has a smile," he said. "She even runs with a smile."
Last week, Katie was awarded the Bright Futures Medallion, meaning 50 percent of her tuition is paid for at a state school. Katie, who lives with her mother; stepfather, Mark Urban; and brother, Danny, originally wanted to go to Florida State University in Tallahassee, but instead chose University of Central Florida in Orlando.
"I love the campus. It's so gorgeous," she explained, adding that she will do her pre-pharmacy coursework there and transfer to another university because UCF doesn't have a pharmacology program.
In addition to academics, Katie was Lely's varsity cross-country team captain, MVP and Coach's Award winner; the varsity basketball Prep Player of the Week; All Area Team captain and MVP; and varsity softball starting catcher. This year, the softball team was named district champions.
Last summer, she was accepted into Volunteen, a competitive volunteer program at NCH Downtown Naples Hospital, and worked in radiology and neuroscience. She also volunteered at the Collier County Heart Walk, the Immokalee Soup Kitchen, Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure, and other local charity runs.
Date: June 1
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: Alico Arena
The valedictorian and salutatorian haven’t yet been named by the district.
"She's an incredible role model for all the kids (at Lely)," Principal Leslie Morris said.
For Katie, learning isn't a chore.
"By learning about it, you might be able to cure it some day," she explained.
She's talking with Walgreens about becoming a pharmacy tech for the summer in the hopes she can work in Orlando and in Naples during school breaks. If she's hired, the retailer would pay for her certification.
"I could get a job at the mall or a restaurant, but where's that going to get you?" she asked. "In the end, it's experience over everything."
"I need to focus," she said, adding that she'll have to give up organized sports, but will continue running or joining intramurals. "Pharmacology is very hard. School comes first, no matter what. My mom always preached that to me."