By Janeal Downs
At the young age of 8, Sydney Slayton started playing tennis at Battery Park. “It started by just watching people play,” Sydney said. “I just continued to hit it against the wall so I could make the team.” She played ever since and it has become one of her favorite activities to do outside of school. Sydney played for both Armstrong High School’s tennis team and the Metro Richmond Tennis Club. This year, she didn’t get to play because of her busy schedule with other extracurricular activities. Despite this, she plays whenever she has leisure time and plans to join an intramural tennis team when she goes to college.
Along with tennis, Sydney enjoys painting, drawing, sculpting, volunteering and other activities. She has volunteered at the Science Museum of Virginia and with the Patrick Henry YMCA. “I’ve learned how to communicate with people (and) how to be more vocal,” Sydney said about her experience as a volunteer. “I’m not scared anymore to speak in front of big crowds. I’ve just learned to come out of my shy shell.” Sydney also had the chance to volunteer with the Prejudice Awareness Summit where she helped facilitate a discussion with middle school students about the effects of bullying. Although she has never been bullied, the experience provided a new perspective on how bullying takes a toll on people and also how different schools deal with it.
Sydney volunteers outside of school, but she also participates in school organizations such as Math Science Investigators, Future Business Leaders of America and Partnership for the Future. With everything she is involved with, Sydney currently maintains a 4.3 cumulative GPA. “In high school, I learned to be more open to trying new things and talking to more people instead of being reserved and quiet,” Sydney said. “So in college I hope to come out my shell even more by engaging in more activities around college clubs and stuff like that.”
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia is her top choice for college. The friendly people she met when she visited and its close proximity to Washington D.C. attracted her to the university over other schools. She plans to major in bio-engineering. One semester, Sydney had the opportunity to take a course with the VCU Health Academy. She studied rehabilitation classes, learned how prosthetics are manufactured and how helpful they can be to people’s bodies. These experiences helped her make a decision to study bio-medical engineering. With so many inspirations and goals, Sydney credits her parents as being big motivators in her life. “My parents, mostly my mother, have inspired me to do well in life. She has supported all of my decisions and dreams without giving me any problems,” Sydney said. “She has also been my number one supporter, she’s right there, she’s my sidekick.” As high school comes to a close and she prepares for college, Sydney is motivated by her parent’s support and her own aspirations.