Northwest Arkansas Students Shine Bright

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- Our area has some of the brightest students on their way to accomplishing big dreams through math and science.

Dyllan Rodriguez is that one student in class who always gets the answer right.

"Some of it is a little bit natural," he said.

..and he even knows when his teacher isn't.

"I love it. I don't mind being caught on being wrong in class," his algebra teacher David Conway said.

Rodriguez says it's more than just genetics. It's also hard work and a zest for learning, especially when it comes to science.

"I just have a connection to science based on the fact that I want to become an astronaut when I grow up," he said.

The 8th grader at Haas Hall Academy says he already has a plan to get there.

"Graduate from Haas Hall, get into a good college, like MIT or Stanford, get a PHD or a masters degree in order to become an aerospace engineer," he said.

There's also Faith Pearrow. She's an 11th grader at Bentonville High School, who also sees her career goals in life clearly.

"I want to go to med school and I either want to be an ER physician or if that doesn't work out or if I get tired of it, I want to go into research for either robotic prosthetic limbs or creating artificial organs," she said.

And she's on track to get there. She's part of the Ignite Technology Program at Bentonville Schools. It's for students to get real world experience by interning alongside local businesses or community partners.

"A lot of students aren't quite sure what they want to do. But she came in with a very definite set of goals and I think that helps keep her focused," instructor John Mark Russell said.

Pearrow is also the only girl in the technology class with 18 boys. She's had to push through challenges of being a young woman pursuing a career path in science, technology, engineering and math. She says it's the raw desire to learn that keeps her motivated.

"There's some days when I'm at school and I'm like, I don't want to be here.. but then like there some classes that are just .. this stuff is so interesting. I can't get enough of it. I think that's what keeps me going," she said.

It's the same fire that burns inside Rodriguez despite common concerns from supportive parents.

"They're always worried about me getting over-stressed. They've always told me, 'Dyllan, why don't you go outside and do something else besides studying and working or anything like that,' and I agree but I've never really had that much of a problem with working too much," he said.

But if you've learned one thing about this bright bunch, you can't stop a boy or a girl with big dreams.

"And if they want to become an astronaut, let them be an astronaut. That's the thing that they're passionate about so you better let them become it because if you miss out on that type of opportunity, the world might lose one of the smartest people that has yet to be seen," he said.