When Everett Area High School senior Skyler Layton was awarded first place in the 2012 Student Health Care Hero Award contest, she was one of the last to know.
"Dr. [Dena] Mobus told my mom before she told me," Skyler said.
Skyler took top honors in the 11th annual Health Careers Week contest for her volunteer work at Pennknoll Village and UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital.
Skyler Layton checks a prescription filled by John Mobus, owner of Lower’s Pharmacy in Everett.
"She was happy I won; she was proud of me," Skyler said of her mom.
The Health Care Careers Week is an annual contest where students from area schools are nominated for special recognition for their contributions to the health care field.
This year's theme was "Become a Health Care Hero," said James Coley, a workforce development specialist at the Southern Alleghenies Workforce Investment Board.
The Layton file
Name: Skyler Layton
School: senior, Everett Area High School; Bedford County Technical Center
Activities: Everett volleyball team; president of Everett's National Honor Society; treasurer of the Everett chapter of the Health Occupation Students of America
Honors: First place 2012 Student Health Care Hero Award from the Southern Alleghenies Workforce Investment Board
Career goal: Pharmacy technician
The board sponsors the contest and encourages students to pursue careers in the health care field, he said.
"I think it's well deserved," Coley said of Skyler's recognition. The award recognizes her achievements and contributions to the health care field and also reflects her goal to one day return to the area and pursue a career after school, he said.
"This is a great example of directing a youth to an up-and-coming field where there's employment opportunities," Coley said. "Hopefully we can draw her back into to the region and use her talents."
Skyler will be honored at the SAWIB meeting on Thursday. In addition to a plaque with her name on it, she will receive $100, Coley said.
For now, Skyler said she's more focused on getting into her dream school - Shenandoah University - than bask in the glory of her award.
After enrolling at Bedford County Technical Center, Skyler said she first considered a career in nursing. But after joining the senior challenge program and speaking with a friend who pursued a career as a pharmacy technician, Skyler said she found her calling.
"Yeah, this is what I think I want to do," she recalled saying. "I knew I wanted to be in the health field somehow so I could help people, I just wasn't sure where."
Skyler spent 45 hours volunteering at the hospital and Pennknoll Village.
The work consisted of various tasks, including prepping rooms for patients, delivering meals and spending time with patients.
"A lot of the people there just needed someone to talk to and interact with," she said.
Skyler said she also volunteers at Lower's Pharmacy in Everett, where she learned how prescriptions are filled and how to interact with customers.
And at the technical school, Skyler and her classmates use standard medical equipment to take X-rays and EKG readings - invaluable experience for students interested in the health care industry, she said.
"Whenever we get the chance to do hands-on things, I really like it," Skyler said.
As president of the school's chapter of the National Honor Society and treasurer of the Health Occupation Students of America, Skyler said she is kept busy with extracurricular activities and classes.
But the senior still manages to find time to play on the school's volleyball team as a defensive specialist, volleyball coach Susan Connor said.
"She's just a very disciplined lady," Connor said. "She is a great peer model because of her hard work and dedication."
At a recent championship game, the Everett team lost, but Skyler played one of her strongest games with important saves during the match, Connor said.
"I told her after the last game, you're a very special lady, and she is," Connor said. "That's why it's so nice to see her receive these awards and recognition."
Skyler insists she was surprised when she took first place in the health care contest.
Skyler said she is focused on the upcoming HOSA blood drive on Nov. 19 at the technical school - and the chance to work closely with American Red Cross officials.
When she's not volunteering, Skyler likely can be found studying for the SATs to ensure she can pursue her dream of studying to be pharmacy technician.
"I'm not really nervous," about leaving home for college, she said. "As soon as I went down and visited [Shenandoah University], I thought, 'This is where I want to go, this is where I need to go.'"
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.