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Summer of opportunity for Erika Weir

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Washington County DYW takes part in GSP

By John Overby

Erika Weir has had a busy summer.

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The morning after being named Distinguished Young Woman for Washington County—something she had dreamed of winning since she was “a little girl” — she was being rushed off to her designated Governor’s Scholar Program destination at Morehead State University.

“It was pretty crazy, kind of like an emotional roller-coaster,” Weir said. “I had to leave for Morehead at like 7 o’clock that morning after winning [DYW], but I just laid there in bed and couldn’t sleep. I still couldn’t believe what had just happened.”

According to its website, GSP is “a summer residential program for outstanding high school students in Kentucky who are rising seniors.”

Weir, who was born in Wakayama, Japan but moved to Washington County when she was 4, first heard about the program when a family friend (Joe Ben Curtis) was accepted last year.

“He came back and was talking about how fun it was,” Weir said. “That was when I kind of wanted to do it first. The biggest appeal for me, though, was probably the five-week college experience type of feel. I saw it as a chance to see what college is sort of like and meet new people who are like me.”

Weir had certain preconceived notions going into the four-week program. She imagined a place that had “a bunch of really, really, really smart kids who can do everything.”

And that’s exactly what she got.

“My expectations were basically right on,” Weir said. “We had a showcase — which is a talent show — every Friday evening.  It was great to see so many talented people. It was eye-opening to see so much talent. We had lots of piano and guitar players, as well as singers.  We had some comedy acts, Irish dancers and dulcimer players.  We had one group do a funny synchronized swimming act.”

One of the rules at GSP was that no one was allowed to have any technology. Weir believes this forced everyone to interact with each other, which helped cultivate an environment of open-mindedness.

“Acceptance is something that you don’t get at a lot of places,” Weir said. “It seemed like everyone was involved with the discussions that we were having.”

In between her three classes each day, Weir engaged in several activities. One of her “daily traditions” involved sitting on a wall and playing music for hours.

“We had a bassoon player, ukuleles and guitars,” Weir said. “[We] had lots of fun doing that.”

When she wasn’t there, she was involved in some of the clubs on campus, including the Sasquatch Hunting Club and the Zombie Apocalypse Simulation Training Club.

“Hunting Sasquatch was really just an epic game of Marco Polo, except you had to make sasquatch sounds,” Weir said.

“In zombie apocalypse simulation, the ‘humans’ had to wear bandanas as flags and run all the way to the other side of campus and run back with the antidote (a tennis ball).”

The biggest thing that Weir took out of the GSP experience, however, was how everyone in the program was different from one another.

This was something that Weir said made the experience “unlike anything else.”

“You really learn to embrace your differences,” Weir said, “because there are people out there who appreciate how different you can be. It’s OK to be different from other people. Everyone is unique.”