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STAR student Grayson Wagner could do a lot of things. Her teacher inspired her pursuit of biomedical engineering
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Gainesville High School STAR student Grayson Wagner, left, chose teacher, Chandra Karnati, as her STAR teacher for 2019. All area STAR students were honored by the Gainesville Kiwanis on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at The Oaks at Lanier College & Career Academy. - photo by Austin Steele

Gainesville’s 2019 STAR student isn’t the only title Grayson Wagner embraces.

Her fellow actors call her dance captain, and when she takes the tennis court at Gainesville High School, she becomes a teammate.

As the dance captain of her school’s theater program, Wagner helps teach actors dances and cleans up the choreographer’s routines.

On Feb. 18 she was named the Gainesville winner of the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program, competing with students from Lakeview and Riverside academies.

Maintaining stellar grades in addition to her extracurricular activities has proved quite the challenge for Wagner.

“I worked around rehearsals and tennis practices,” she said. “It involved a lot of time management and a few late nights.”

When she graduates from high school, she plans to embark on a journey in the field of biomedical engineering.

Wagner first gained exposure to engineering through her parents, who both graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Once she had Chandra Karnati as her research teacher, Wagner’s interest in engineering kicked into gear. She said Karnati’s class gave her the time to foster an interest specifically in biomedical engineering.

“I love the idea of working in the medical field and directly impacting and helping others,” she said. “Biomedical engineering is a great way to put that to use.”

Because of his positive impact on her life, she chose Karnati as her STAR teacher for 2019.

“He’s a family friend and he’s been a really great teacher as well,” Wagner said. “He’s the teacher that pushed me towards the STEM field. He lets me research biomedical engineering in my own way.”

She also recognizes her loved ones for helping her through her high school career.

“I want to give thanks to my parents and sisters for always being supportive of me,” she said. “For listening to me when I’m stressed out and helping to get my mind off of it when I need to.”

Wagner is keeping Georgia Tech as her in-state choice, and has her eyes open to other potential universities with reputable engineering schools.

Wagner will participate in the regional competition with Max Hernandez, the Hall County winner, and other students March 7 at the University of North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus.

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