Graduating Friday night from Eastern View High School, Rebekah Smith has her sights set on a career in ophthalmology.
She has been preparing for the field even amid an uncommon year when students could not gather to learn in person 100 percent of the time. Smith nonetheless seems ready to start college in the fall at Virginia Tech, a research university in Blacksburg.
The EVHS senior earned an associate’s degree enrolled in the Mountain Vista Governor’s School program through which she competed and won first place at the 2020 Fauquier County Regional Science & Engineering Fair.
Smith’s winning research project was entitled, “Effects of Air Exposure Before Corneal Preservation.” The eye-opening display also won second place at The Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair, held virtually due to the pandemic.
Lab work for the study involved dissecting 100 pig eyes and examining groups of 30 eyes each that had been exposed to air for varying times. Smith was chosen to bring her project to the national level at a science fair in California, but COVID cancelled the affair.
Over the past year, the high school student, attending virtual school for a portion of it, nevertheless interned with Dr. Russell Brear at Commonwealth Eye Center, laser-focused on getting experience in the field. Rebekah’s mother, Culpeper School Board Member Betsy Smith, said her daughter selected Virginia Tech for college because she wants to do continue to do research.
“She’s working on something she wants to publish or patent,” said Betsy Smith. “She is hoping to continue with lots of research and go on to med school and into the Air Force.”