The recipient of a $4,000 science award at this year’s Spokane Scholars Foundation Banquet was a reluctant convert to scientific studies.
“I used to hate science,” said Lewis and Clark senior Deanna Dwyer.
The subject she once loathed is the focus of three of her six classes this year.
For Dwyer, a science class during her freshman year proved pivotal.
“It opened my eyes,” she said. “It made all the difference.”
In addition to the top prize in science from Spokane Scholars, Dwyer is a valedictorian at LC, graduating with a 4.0 GPA and a 3.67 weighted GPA, which recognizes the honors and advanced placement classes she took throughout her high school career.
“Science is my favorite subject now,” Dwyer said. “It’s challenging and intriguing – that made it click for me.”
Kathy Blancher, LC counselor, said, “Deanna is exceptional in everything she does, but she has a very humble spirit.”
Everything she does includes serving as student body treasurer, National Honor Society president and co-captain of the drill team.
“I have a terrible habit of not being able to say no to anything.”
And science isn’t the only thing she excels at: She’s a member of Spokane Ballet Ensemble and performs regularly at area elementary schools, in addition to dancing competitively.
“I started dancing at 2,” she said. “My favorite styles are jazz and contemporary.”
Dance provided a valuable entree at Lewis and Clark.
“I came from a small middle school (Libby Center) where I knew everyone,” Dwyer said. “Drill team offered me an instant connection.”
Her success hasn’t come without hardship. Her father died from complications of MS when she was 11.
“He was a huge computer guy and bought me video games. We watched movies like ‘Star Wars’ together, and he used to get me Stuffed Crust pizza from Pizza Hut,” she recalled.
His absence left an unfillable hole in her life.
She said her mother, a Chinese immigrant, is responsible for her formidable work ethic.
“My drive comes from my mom. She worked like three jobs when I was younger,” Dwyer said. “My mom always says, everyone is given the same amount of hours in a day, it’s up to you how you use them.”
This student chose to make the most of every hour, confessing that she can’t relax when she knows she has homework to finish.
“She’s full of genuine grit, self-discipline and is the kind of kid that is very used to working hard to get it all to come together,” Blancher said. “She’s pretty spectacular.”
Dwyer is trilingual. She speaks, reads and writes Chinese and has taken Spanish all four years of high school. Yet dance is where she truly communicates.
“I’m able to tell my story through dance – to show emotion,” she said. “It’s something I’d struggled with.”
She wants to study pre-med coursework and hopes to one day become a pediatrician and perhaps serve with Doctors Without Borders.
Acceptance at the University of Michigan offered the chance to explore both of her passions.
“They’ve got a great pre-med program and several dance companies on campus that I can audition for,” she said.
Blancher has no doubt this student will shine wherever she lands.
“She’s a very bright star,” Blancher said. “She will represent LC well in the world.”
For now, Dwyer is most concerned about representing her father well.
“I think about him a lot. I wish he could be here for my last dance recital, or to walk me down the aisle at my wedding,” she said. “I’d like to think he’d be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.”
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