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The Class of 2020: Overcoming anxiety to graduate on top

Paige Kennedy is graduating with a 3.9 GPA and has a full ride to Southern Utah University to study chemistry. She did all this while dealing with major anxiety. (Photo: Kelli Pierce)

ERDA, Utah — Paige Kennedy is graduating with a 3.9 GPA and plenty of honors. She will attend Southern Utah University on a full scholarship and plans on studying chemistry, but it took more than just brains to get to the top of the class. Paige has dealt with major anxiety for years. 

“I started struggling when I was in seventh and eighth grade and through my freshman year. It was really hard for me to go and talk to my teachers, so I had a hard time with my grades,” Kennedy says.

Anxiety can be tough for anyone to go through, but it can be extra difficult when you are a girl in high school. 

“I am a very strong feeler, and I take on other people’s emotions very easily. High schoolers are dramatic. Girls are dramatic, and it’s hard for me to be around dramatic people because I take on that emotion myself and it puts me in a really hard place…I’ve taken on their problems, and they’re not mine,” Kennedy says.  

It has gotten easier for Paige with the help of her mother, Monica. 

“Struggling with anxiety, and depression as well, we had to come up with ways for me to calm down and feel safe. My mom always knows what to do. Sometimes I don’t necessarily want to listen to her because I’m struggling. But everything that I’ve done so far, I owe it all to my mom,” Kennedy says. 

Monica Kennedy started a Facebook group called “Adopt A Senior“, which helps people give gifts to the Class of 2020. The Kennedys have adopted a few graduates themselves, while Paige has also gotten gifts. 

Paige is training to be a pharmacy technician right now and hopes to someday work in a lab to find cures for diseases…or maybe even the vaccine for COVID-19. 

“I’ve always been interested in science, and I’ve always loved helping people, so I was already planning on that…This whole COVID thing has definitely made me want to help more people,” Kennedy says.        

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