Holcomb High School’s 2018 valedictorian Megan Burrows had to work for what she got.

The recent graduate has maintained a lifetime of straight A’s, placed at state golf, was named a Kansas Honor Scholar and was accepted into the University of Kansas’ honors program starting next fall.

“A lot of people have asked me ‘Do you really try hard or does school just come easily for you?’ And I think I will always try hard,” Burrows said. “Like no matter if it’s easy or not, I’m always going to put my best foot forward, and I think that’s really important. Because I don’t want people to think that it was just easy because I really did try hard.”

Burrows came to Holcomb in sixth grade, an alumni of Jennie Barker Elementary School in Garden City USD 457. When she changed districts, the small elementary school gave way to a student population far bigger than she was used to. As she said, she went from three friends to 30.

Holcomb Middle School welcomed Burrows instantly, she said. Classmates approached her openly on her first day and invited her to eat lunch or hang out with them. It was her first taste of Holcomb’s tight-knit student body. From middle to high school, it was a class that was there for each other, she said.

“It was kind of crazy, and I didn’t really know where I would fit in, but they’re not really cliquey there. Like, everyone is friends with everyone,” Burrows said.

When looking back at her time at Holcomb High School, Burrows remembers the student section at football games and all her classmates dancing together at prom, talking to people they may not have had classes with that year. It was a class that worked hard universally, she said, and one that would always return a wave hello.

It’s a group of people she admires, but not one she’s desperately hanging onto.

“I’m actually really excited to meet new people, and also to experience new things on my own…” Burrows said. “I want to be myself, and in Holcomb, we’re all really close so we all kind of do the same thing. But I really want to grow as a person and learn new things that I don’t really know here.”

Burrows will major in biology when she goes to KU in the fall, en route to her hopeful future as a dermatologist. She was first turned onto the possible career track by an unconventional motivation.

“I thought I’d want to be a dermatologist because I watched pimple popping videos,” Burrows said. “I’m in love with those. I watch those all the time,” she said.

She also wants to help people, whether she’s treating patients’ skin problems or educating the public about skin cancer.

Having a plan isn’t out of character for Burrows. In high school, she was involved in KAY Club, SADD, National Honor Society, golf and softball, but academics were always a priority. She’s had a 4.0 her whole life and dedicated her time to studying, whether or not the subject matter came easily to her.

“I just think education … It’s a privilege … Not everyone gets the education that I get, and I think that going through the classes that I do, I want to try my best and get as much out of it as I can,” she said.

The attitude seeps into other areas of Burrows’ life, she said. She said she tries hard in all areas, including sports. Whatever she does, she said she wants to do it to the best of her ability.

Drive runs in the family, Burrows said, particularly from her dad. He was a person who achieved what he set his mind to, she said, and urged her to do the same. If she got a 95 on an assignment, he asked why she didn’t get a 98. He instilled in her a desire to do her best.

It’s a trait Burrows’ longtime math teacher, Michelle Baier, saw firsthand. Baier said Burrows was part of a group of students in her classes that worked incredibly hard, cared deeply about their grades and brimmed over with maturity and patience as both teacher and students learned new things together. Baier respects all of them.

And Baier said she saw a lot of herself in Burrows, a determined and headstrong young woman ready to take on the world. Baier said Burrows was someone who could challenge her in the same way Baier challenged her students. She believed Burrows would be successful in whatever she attempted.

“There just hasn’t been a lot to stop her so far. I know when I was in high school, people told me … ‘You won’t get a 4.0 in college.’ And it really upset me and made me mad, so I said ‘Watch me.’ And she’s kind of one of those kids that I think would be like that. She’ll be one of those kids who will prove people wrong,” Baier said.

Burrows seems to feel similarly. As she moves on to college, she hopes to do well and maintain a 4.0. But, kicking off her KU career with a 19-hour semester, she also hopes to earn her bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible.

Challenge is vital to Burrows, but so is movement.

“I don’t want to be there forever, and I want to get my life started and keep growing. And I don’t ever want to slow down,” Burrows said.

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.