LAINGSBURG — Growing up, Sierra Price witnessed her grandfather’s trials and tribulations with mantle cell lymphoma and lung cancer, a nearly two-decade battle he ultimately lost in March 2020.
Her grandfather’s resilience, and the care and attention provided by hospital staff throughout his fight, has stuck with the now-18-year-old, leading her to pursue a career of her own in the medical field. Price will enroll in the nursing program at Northern Michigan University this fall.
“I just loved how, not only were the doctors there for him, but the nurses, the nurses were always there, especially in hospice,” Price said. “They were there for not only him, but for the family, for us. I am really interested in caring for other people and I feel like that’s the best way to do it.”
A senior at Laingsburg High School, Price maintains a robust schedule, tackling advanced placement courses in calculus and literature, and college-level independent study courses in psychology and chemistry, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. The 18-year-old also participates in Laingsburg High School’s marching, concert and jazz bands, competes on the girls cross country and soccer teams, and works part-time at Tammy’s Bakery and Cafe.
And while the coronavirus pandemic has altered Price’s senior year, with classes switching back-and-forth from in-person to online, she remains upbeat. If anything, the experience will serve her well in future years, she said.
“I feel like there are some unique benefits (this year), like I’m starting to learn time management for myself and that’s definitely something that I’m going to need in college,” Price said, adding “communication with teachers is definitely way more important this year,” another exercise she believes will benefit her in the long term.
Price isn’t solely focused on her own progress at LHS, however; during her sophomore year, she helped launch a free tutoring program for students in need of assistance.
“I started to become more aware of my peers around me, and that some of my classmates, and even my friends, were struggling in classes that I was excelling in,” Price said. “This really, really bothered me; I didn’t think it was fair that my peers were trying so hard in their classes and that they had no opportunity to reach out for help.”
Enlisting the help of a few friends who felt the same way, Price set to work on boosting her peers academically. Even with instruction transitioning online at times, tutors have continued to meet with students via Zoom, she said.
“We have helped grades rise from a ‘D’ to an ‘A,’ and test scores from 50 percent to 90 percent,” Price said. “We meet with the students as much as they need, usually once or twice a week. This year is definitely different, but students are still encouraged to reach out to our school counselor to be assigned a tutor.”
For her academic and extracurricular efforts, Price received a full-ride academic scholarship to Northern Michigan University. Price said she was drawn to NMU “not only because of the amazing academics and nursing program,” but also because of the “pure beauty” of the Upper Peninsula.
“I love that I can still have that downtown feel while also having so much nature close by,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to hiking, hammocking, fishing and spending more time outdoors.”
After working for a while as a registered nurse, Price said she intends to go back to school to obtain her master’s degree, with the goal of becoming a women’s health nurse practitioner.
Michelle Cousineau, a math and science teacher who’s had Price in class throughout her four years at Laingsburg High School, believes the teen is well-prepared for whatever lies ahead.
“Sierra has great attention to detail, and always produces thoughtful work,” Cousineau said. “She is very caring and supportive of her friends and family, and is willing to help out in any situation, whether that is explaining a concept to classmates, tutoring fellow students, leading her section in band, or supporting her teammates. Sierra is a genuine, honest, intelligent leader, and these qualities will continue to benefit her in the future.”