High School: Roane County High School
Plans after graduation: Barker plans to obtain a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University majoring in civil engineering. After earning his degree, Barker wants to pursue a career that will help our nation "have better city planning and safer roadways."
Overcoming obstacles has never proven to be a challenge for Dewayne Patrick Barker.
At just 17 years old, Barker, who goes by Patrick, said school and studying have always come naturally to him. However, the teenager admits that there have been some hardships in his life, too.
His mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer and currently is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Barker, who was in disbelief about being selected for the 2013 EQT Students of Excellence Scholarship program for some time, said he isn't generally a lucky person and he isn't used to being in the spotlight for winning.
"I've always kind of wanted to learn and my parents always pushed me to learn," Barker said. "One of the issues is my mom has cancer."
Barker said it was his father who told him about applying for the scholarship. Barker said he worked on a letter to send in with the application for several weeks after his dad informed him of the plan. He was shocked when he learned he was selected for the full-ride scholarship, he said.
From building blocks to toy construction, Barker said he had a desire to build that started at a young age. His passion for learning, though it comes naturally, doesn't outshine his simple passion for engineering. Barker has always wanted to build.
"I liked to build stuff when I was young and it just kind of stuck with me," he said. "School comes natural."
Barker is quick to give praise to his mother, Patricia, for everything she has overcome with her cancer treatments and giving her full attention to his younger siblings — Christopher, 16, and Andrea, 12.
By attending West Virginia University, Barker said he believes he can pursue his dream career path by becoming an engineer. After leaving WVU, Barker wants to be a teacher. He said during his teaching career he hopes to help "as many students achieve their dreams as possible."
Not only does he work hard in school, but Barker also works late into the evening studying for a self-directed advanced placement calculus class, his dad, Dewayne Barker, said.
Barker says he hopes his experience after college will allow him to bring real life applications to the theories that he was taught in the classroom.
His father says his son has continued to concentrate heavily on his studies throughout what others may describe as a very difficult time in his life.
"His mother has been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, and this has affected the entire family," his father said in a letter recommending Barker for the scholarship. "I am so proud of him for the help he has provided in our home since his mother's illness because he has maintained excellent grades in the most challenging courses offered and helped care for his younger brother and sister during extended hospital stays that his mother has had to endure."
The elder Barker said his son has more desire to attend college than any person he knows.
Patrick Barker participated in the annual Future Business Leaders of America competition in 2012, and earned first place in Business Law for the entire state. However, his father said a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending the National Future Business Leaders of America conference. And even though he was in Europe with the People to People Ambassadors to the World Program, he still made time for volunteer work while he was there.
"He performed community service during the visit to Europe and came home with a much broader vision of the world," his father said.
Barker is taking a very aggressive class schedule in his senior year at Roane County High School, with a combination of additional college courses offered through the high school and advanced placement classes. He also works late into the evening studying for other courses, Barker's father said.
Accepting the challenges of honors courses, Barker is currently enrolled in advanced placement classes and college courses offered by his high school.
His future plans include attending WVU, where he hopes to major in civil engineering. He has already taken both college algebra and trigonometry, receiving a 4.0 in both classes, to prepare for the rigorous course schedule ahead of him with a science-related major in college.
Other extracurricular activities he is involved in include Future Business Leaders of America and his high school book club.
He also received a Golden Horseshoe Award in eighth grade.
The award is given to 200 eighth graders across the state and is for outstanding knowledge of the state's history and culture.
The state superintendent inducted the students as Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe during a pinning ceremony at the Cultural Center in Charleston. The award is considered by many to be one of the greatest honors bestowed upon students in West Virginia, but Barker has a goal with others in mind.
"It's my life's goal to help others be their best," Barker said. "With that goal in mind, I have shaped my life's plans to reach my objectives and have a fulfilling life and career."