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Working hard in memory of her mother

Apr. 5, 2013
 
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Sarah Beilke is a top-performing student at Newman Catholic High School in Wausau. Losing her mother to cancer in 2008 motivates her to do her best. / T'xer Zhon Kha/Gannett Central Wisconsin Media

About Sarah Beilke

Age: 18

Residence: Weston

School: Newman Catholic High School

Parents: Don and Kealie Beilke

College plans: Beilke plans to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee, majoring in biomedical science

Hobbies: Running, volleyball, Campus Ministry and Students Against Destructive Decisions

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WESTON Right now, Sarah Beilke is not exactly sure whether she wants to be a lawyer or a doctor.

She said she enjoys social studies and other classes that relate to law. But she’s strongly leaning toward the medical field, and Beilke plans to study biomedical science at Marquette University. If she does become a doctor, she expects to become an oncologist.

You could say Beilke is almost destined to work to cure cancer. Beilke’s mother, Kealie, died of the disease at age 37 in 2008, and the deep loss has motivated Beilke in the classroom and in the community ever since.

“I would say it made me more determined to do better for her, to make her proud,” Beilke said. “When I was young, she always emphasized that school would open doors for us, help make us better people.”

Beilke is bright, quick to grasp intellectual concepts and has a natural curiosity. “I really like to learn new things,” she said. But she’s also a hard-driver who’s willing to work to make the most of her gifts.

“You only have so many opportunities in your life to take advantage of,” Beilke said. “You have to take advantage of those things.”

That attitude has made Sarah “clearly one of the brightest young people I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” said James Delikowski, Newman Catholic High School principal. “Sarah is a talented and hardworking individual and unafraid to take on difficult challenges.”

Seeking to cure cancer and advocating for healthy and active lifestyles have been among those challenges. In addition to being a varsity athlete on the Newman volleyball and track teams, Beilke has volunteered or participated in two community cancer-fighting events, Relay for Life and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Beilke also studied how obesity and lack of exercise are major risk factors for developing cancer, heart disease, depression and other illnesses as part of her senior project. All Newman seniors are required to do such a project in order to graduate.

Beilke said the study “opened my eyes” about the scope of the problems that obesity, poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle create. She would like to see more community events and gatherings that focus on exercise, fitness and nutrition — a health club of sorts, like there are card clubs or snowmobile clubs.

“It would have to be inclusive, too,” Beilke said.

She envisions events with the goal of getting “large numbers of people physically active while teaching them how to make healthier choices in their day-to-day lives.”

Meanwhile, Beilke plans to continue her efforts to learn and work.

Delikowski sees a bright future ahead for Beilke. “I am certain that an investment in the future of Sarah Beilke is an investment that will pay off for all of us exponentially,” he said.

Keith Uhlig can be reached at 715-845-0651. Find him on Twitter as @UhligK.

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