Since her junior year at Stone Bridge High School, Amanda Ryerse has been building relationships with middle school students.
Her participation in Positive Experiences in Educational Relationships (PEER) has had a very positive influence on her as the oldest child in her family.
The program is made up of 16 selected juniors and seniors trained to listen and help other students, as well to as tutor middle school students.
“When I first applied for it, I only kind of knew what it was. I knew we helped students at Stone Bridge, but I had no idea we mentored kids at Belmont Ridge Middle School,” Ryerse said. “I fell in love with the mentoring aspect because I met some amazing girls there and going through their stories just reinforced why I wanted to make an impact.”
Ryerse is hoping to continue her mentoring of younger students as she moves forward with her post-high school education.
Participating in Virginia Girls State last summer allowed Ryerse to branch out and learn more about leadership skills.
At Girls State, she served as the secretary for the Commonwealth of Virginia and as the campaign manager for the governor's race and the lieutenant governor's race.
“Girls State was one of the defining moments of high school for me. It was where I decided what I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted to make an impact,” Ryerse said. “One of the big things they stress is you get out what you put in, and that made me do things I never thought I would do.”
With a 4.3 GPA, Ryerse is in the top 30 students in her class at Stone Bridge.
She is planning to major in engineering in college and is trying to decide whether to focus on mechanical, electrical or computer engineering.
Ryerse was selected for the prestigious C-Tech2 program at Virginia Tech in 2013. The competitive two-week program explores the different areas of engineering through lectures, labs and design projects.
She is considering a possible minor in business, as well.
“I like the aspect of combining engineering with business because, if you can talk [in a technical manner], you could also sell your product and cut out the middle man,” Ryerse said.
She is waiting to hear from schools, including the U.S. Naval Academy, to determine where she will go to college.
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