By Libby Smith

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) –  Every month during the school year, CBS4 partners with PDC Energy to celebrate high school students who excel at science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The Future Leaders award comes with $1,000 and a profile on CBS4 News.

January’s winner is Sera McCarty, a senior at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch.

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“I’m in Anatomy & Physiology which has probably been my favorite science class so far,” McCarty told CBS4.

Hands-on learning in science and math sparks a passion in McCarty.

“I like to make things and build things, and with math and science I’ve been able to do that, especially with the engineering side of it,” she said.

McCarty competes in the Colorado HOSA competitions. She went to the State Competition her Freshman Year. Colorado HOSA allows her to explore aspect of the medical field.

“I did sports medicine this year,” she said.

At Mountain Vista High School, McCarty excels in her STEM classes.

“I think it’s because all the teachers that I’ve had all four years have just been so great, and they’ve helped me really learn and understand math and science,” she explained.

Now McCarty is a teacher herself. She coaches 5-to-7-year-olds in gymnastics at Peak Athletics.

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“I did gymnastics for as long as I can remember, and then as I started getting older I did competitive gymnastic,” she said. “I did quit when I was in the 10th grade due to injuries, and my body just couldn’t take it anymore.”

She made the transition to coaching, and was also inspired to consider a career in sports medicine. But, before that, McCarty plans to study biomedical engineering in college.

“I wanted to be the one to make and design and create the things that were going to help people,” she said.

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McCarty is all about helping people. She’s a role model to young gymnasts and to her fellow STEM students.

LINK: More on Future Leaders

You can nominate a high school student who’s excelling in STEM by clicking here to fill out the application.

Libby Smith