CRAIG — Changing the world begins with a single step or, for one local high school student, a trip to Boston.
“I only have a year and half of high school. … I have to buckle down and figure out where I’m going to go to college and how I’m going to benefit people and change the world,” said Moffat County High School Junior Hali Reyes.
On Dec. 15, Reyes’ 17th birthday, she was recognized with a certificate of “honor and distinction” from the Medical Advisory Broad of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists.
High school counselor Paula Duzik nominated Reyes to attend the Academy’s 2017 Congress of Future Medical Leaders, held in Lowell, Massachusetts, in June.
“I think it’s pretty amazing that she was nominated for the award,” said Moffat County High School Principal Kyle York. “It’s important for all our students living in Craig to know that, if you put in the hard work, people will notice you; it doesn’t matter where you come from.”
At the congress, thousands of students with an aptitude in science gathered to be inspired by positive messages about science and to gain “the direction, confidence and capabilities to stay true to their dream of becoming doctors and medical scientists,” according to the website for the 2018 congress.
Becoming a forensic pathologist is Reyes’ current career goal.
“I’ve always watched crime shows, and I’ve always been interested in the people doing stuff with the bodies,” she said. “My dad has always thought I’d go to Harvard.”
She was originally worried about the cost to attend the congress.
“Yes, there’s expense, but there’s expense associated in going to school and then changing a degree because you don’t know what you want to do,” said friend Annette Dunckley, who traveled to Boston with the Reyes. “I think it helped her carve a better a path to what she wants.”
Ultimately, the entire Reyes family traveled to Boston together.
“And, her dad went with her to the congress. It was really fun to ask them what stood out in their minds,” Dunkley said.
Hearing from the woman who received the first full face transplant and her doctor, as well as “a little kid that developed tabs for detecting colon cancer,” made an impression, Reyes said.
“People are doing great things,” she said. “It opened my eyes that I could pretty much do what I want with my future and in the medical industry.”
The conference was eye-opening, as was the city of Boston. They visited Boston Square, went whale watching, toured museums, walked downtown and rented a car and drove around.
“Woo, they are crazy. It’s a lot different, even compared to Denver,” she said.
Boston is a place Reyes had wanted to visit for a long time.
“My sister had open-heart surgery when she was little, and she had it there. So, I’ve always wanted to go and see the ocean and talk with people with their weird accents and see a city with so much history and talk with people that could give you so many historical facts,” she said.
A gifted and talented student, Reyes is a member of student council and plans to run for school president next year. She’s also a part of Link Crew, Future Business Leaders of America, DECA and Honor Society. She also plays high school golf and is a member of the volleyball team.
“There are a variety of people that can do amazing things. It’s not just kids from high-income families in big cities,” Reyes said. “It’s all these kids that come from all kinds of random places.”