Nate Younk has only been attending Gig Harbor High for two years but has already distinguished himself both in the classroom and on the athletic field. Ranked No. 1, he’s graduating at the top of his class.
“Nate is reliable and chooses to approach challenges as an opportunity for an adventure in life and in learning. He is inspiring in the classroom, on the athletic fields and others look to Nate for courage,” says his AP calculus teacher, Phyllis Payne.
Younk has been playing football for 10 years, following a family tradition. He says it’s a good sport for him because it allows him to release energy in a positive way.
This year, his Gig Harbor High teammates and coaches voted him “Mr. Academic,” which he considers a highlight of his football career.
“It shows how hard I’ve worked from an academic standpoint,” he says.
Football has also helped him make new friends and become acclimatized after moving to a new school — and a new state — when he was beginning his junior year.
Athletics have been a big part of his life, and Younk has played several sports including basketball, soccer and baseball. Prior to moving to Gig Harbor from Michigan, he had a distinguished wrestling career, and twice became the Michigan state runner-up.
“Athletics is my release. It helps me get away and forget about everything,” he says. “I need that because I’m stressed out a lot.”
Described as an intelligent and diligent student, Younk has shown perseverance in his studies.
“He values academics just as much as his athletics, motivating others to work toward their best,” Payne says.
Younk says he didn’t think he could maintain his 4.0 GPA, and he’s proud of achieving that goal.
“I want to be perfect and the best I can be, and the best I can be is 4.0,” he says.
He spends an average of two hours a day doing homework in order to maintain his perfect GPA. That’s not always easy, considering he also spends a lot of time after school tutoring others in math. In the first semester of this school year, he spent about 50 hours tutoring, both on volunteer and paid basis.
“I like interacting with people. I’m pretty outgoing and I also like helping people,” he says of his tutoring.
Younk plans to study petroleum engineering at Montana Tech, where he will be playing football on a full scholarship. He chose the major because it’s a challenging field, but is keeping an open mind for other interests as well.
Education: Senior, Gig Harbor High School
Parents: David and Deanne Younk
Activities/Achievements: 10 AP/Honors classes; football defensive line captain, 1st Team All-League, “Mr. Academic,” Defensive Player of the Week (3), Outstanding Scholarship Award (4); wrestling Michigan state runner-up; Class of 2016 “Boy Genius”; National Honor Society; Students for Change; Rachel’s Challenge; PYF camp volunteer; tutoring and community service volunteering
Favorite teacher: Phyllis Payne, AP calculus. “She is the best teacher I’ve ever had. She has taught me more than any other teacher.”
Best thing about high school: “Everyone is extremely friendly and kind. It is laid back and offer great courses. The teachers are incredible.”