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Eyes set on the world
Graduate takes interest in cultural studiesBy Bruce Beck
Katie Beckham is waiting for Texas A&M University to send her an acceptance letter. If the Aggies don't hurry up, they'll lose the Ascension Academy senior to St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Okla.
Beckham, 18, the daughter of Steven and Lori Beckham, will graduate third in her class.
"Katie has worked tirelessly to maintain academic excellence," said Jane Howk, Ascension's Key Club adviser. "She placed at state level in the (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) academic meet."
Howk said Beckham organized a number of fundraisers to help Amarillo nonprofit organizations, but the daughter of Steven and Lori Beckham downplays the importance of her involvement.
"Everything I do is within the framework of an organization," she said. "(Even though I'm) president of the National Honor Society, we got together to decide what needs to be done."
That may be the truth, but Beckham has had a major hand in NHS and student council efforts to bring school supplies to Opportunity School students, collecting socks for homeless people at Faith City Ministries and the school's canned food drive to benefit the High Plains Food Bank.
Beckham said she focuses on balancing her extracurricular activities with her studies to keep from being overwhelmed by either.
"I try to do the things that are my top priority," she said. "I try to work on everything a little every day so I can take care of everything without having to cram at the end."
Her studies in English seem to come easy to her, Beckham said, but she has to study harder to make the grades in math, economics, science and government.
Beckham has some firsthand knowledge of the workings of government, having served as a student ambassador to Australia for three weeks last summer through the People to People program. The year before, Beckham spent those three weeks in Italy.
"Even though we learned about their governments, what was most valuable was we learned to know the people and to forge ties with (the people of) another country," she said. "We found out what people think about Americans, and sometimes we had to set them straight.
"I love traveling, I love meeting people from other countries and I think I'd like to know how we came to be the people we are today" by studying cultural anthropology beginning in the fall - either in College Station or Shawnee, Okla.
Celebrate Education is a yearlong community project to encourage lifelong learning and help raise the education level in the Texas Panhandle.
Editor's note: The Amarillo Globe-News is profiling a student a day from May 9-29 as part of its 2008 graduation coverage. Students were nominated by Globe-News readers.
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