PEMBROKE — Before Mikala Lowry even set foot in Purnell Swett High School, she had the bigger picture in mind.
With dreams of eventually becoming a doctor, Lowry knew she’d have to make the most of the four years ahead of her.
“When I was in middle school I tried to set goals for high school and I said that I wanted to do as much as possible,” Lowry said. “I wanted to play all the sports and I knew when I participated in clubs and stuff that it would look good on college transcripts. That was the main reason and because I like being involved.”
Now a senior at Purnell Swett, Lowry has continued to be a self-driven leader that is involved all around the school. She’s been a key contributor to the Rams’ softball, basketball and volleyball teams and is ranked second in her class with a 4.6 weighted grade point average.
She’s also involved in a handful of clubs including Native American Student Association, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Beta Club, National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society and RhoKappa, which is a social studies honor society.
“She’s a great example as far as being a student-athlete for the Purnell Swett family,” said Jerome Hunt, Purnell Swett’s athletic director.
Her significant contributions to each of her teams and her dedication to academics were among the reasons she was chosen as February’s Mountaire Farms/Civitas Media Scholar Athlete of the Month.
The program’s mission is to highlight male and female senior student-athletes within Robeson, Scotland and Bladen counties who carry a 3.0 GPA or higher. Nominees need to also be recognized by their coaches for outstanding sportsmanship and perform with superior ability in athletic competition.
Each monthly winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship and becomes eligible for an additional $1,500 in college funds that is awarded in June to the male and female scholar athletes of the year.
No matter the sport, Lowry has found a key role. In volleyball she was part of a three-pronged hitting attack that was among the best in the Southeastern Conference. In the softball team’s opening game on Friday, she had a three-run home run and went 3-for-6. She was also the basketball team’s lone All-Conference selection.
“She accepts her roles and she’s real coachable,” said Swett softball coach William Deese. “She takes it personally on the field. She wants to do good not just for her, but for her team. She’s tops in her class and that speaks volumes about her because unless she’s mad, she’s almost always got a smile on her face and she goes about her business.”
The basketball success was nearly cut short during her sophomore year.
As tryouts approached, Lowry’s grandmother was ill and eventually passed away. Around the same time, her mother was getting ready to have a baby. Caught up in the emotion, she chose to quit basketball for the year.
“That day, just that one moment I was like ‘I don’t want to play basketball anymore,’” she said. “I just realized it was something I love. It was a mistake. I regretted it.”
She missed the entire year but rejoined the team as a junior and has had continued success since.
Her varsity career will end after this spring as she furthers her quest to become a doctor. She’ll attend the University of North Carolina at Pembroke starting this fall to begin her undergraduate degree, with hopes of attending East Carolina University afterwards.
Though she credits her family for always pushing her, she knows her personal drive will ultimately be what leads to success.
“I think motivation, to a certain extent, has to come from within,” she said. “If a person wants something, they’re going to get it if they’re motivated enough.”