Studying was a part of her nightly routine, especially in math and science classes.
Indian Creek High School salutatorian Elaine Dawson’s grade-point average was more than 4.0 when she finished her last final this spring, but she laughs about idea of school coming at all easily. She studied and worked hard until her last assignment was turned in.
“I’ve spent countless hours on my schoolwork. I’m definitely one who spends time to make sure I learn (hard concepts the right way).”
Dawson was driven from the start of ninth grade, most recently earning top grades in what she considered some of her toughest classes: pre-calculus and trigonometry and AP biology and chemistry. She also did well in her English classes, which she said are her strongest.
She likes to kid about how close she was to taking the top spot from valedictorian Levi Brock. The two were at times nearly equal in their GPA, but she was far ahead of others in her class, she said. She was in fifth place freshman year in the class rankings, but continued pushing herself to work harder.
“I was confident, but not worried,” she said, about her exact place in the class list.
Besides her inner drive to do well, Dawson also had plenty of motivation at home: Her parents, Kirk and Erin, pushed her to do her best in every subject, and they knew she could be a high achiever.
“A B+ wasn’t acceptable,” she said. “My parents always wanted me to do the best I can. I’ve always known it was important, especially for getting into college, but getting a good education really is a blessing.”
Throughout her four years at Indian Creek, Dawson also participated in cross-country, band — where she played the trumpet — and National Honor Society.
Dawson describes her class ranking as a blessing, but not a necessity. The second-place slot did help with college admissions and earning a scholarship at the University of Indianapolis.
After exploring her options, she chose the nursing field because of the opportunities it offers and the number of positions that are available in any state she chooses. Dawson would like to pursue medical missionary work in the future.
Her faith also has played a role in helping her to achieve her ranking, she said. She often turned toward prayer when she felt discouraged. She credits her pastor, Ron Sodrel, among her mentors.
“Really, it’s my No. 1 priority,” she said of her spirituality. “I’ve grown a lot since I’ve been in high school.”
Now, she has set an example in her household. Dawson’s brother, Tucker, 16, a sophomore, and sister, Izzy, 15, a freshman, are also being pushed hard by their parents to do well.
“I’ve made it hard for them,” Dawson said.