Knew Her When:
is a real Renaissance gal: scientifically, artistically and
entrepreneurially driven, she remains grounded in a dedication
to her family and her community. In short, she cares.
I sat down for
a chat with the Sedona Red Rock High School class of 2001
Co-Valedictorian. My assignment: to reveal for all what makes
such an exceptional gal tick.
But in all honesty,
its amazing that Easton has time to tick at all - she
is so incredibly busy.
Morning after morning,
Gardner gets up at the crack of dawn and heads to work, then
to school and then back to work. She plays basketball and
volleyball, and when the teams were travelling, shed
often get home at 3:00 a.m., and still have to pull herself
out of bed in time to be at work by 7:00 a.m.
mind you, does not include her volunteer work for the Fire
Department and the Red Cross, or her school affiliations,
which include the Graduation Committee and Presidency of SRRHSs
chapter of the National Honor Society.
Its a far
cry from life on the farm, which is what she enjoyed prior
to moving to Sedona seven years ago, from tiny Deming, in
Southwestern New Mexico. Life moved at a slower pace in the
close-to-the-border town, whose main crops included cotton,
chile and barley.
was to stay at home and work on the farm," Gardner said.
As part of a family who have been farmers for many generations,
that tradition was deeply respected, making the decision to
leave Deming a serious one.
Prior to the move,
Gardners school years were shaped by bilingual classes
and the distinction of sometimes being the only white girl
around. Her natural aptitude and love for learning allowed
her to skip the third grade, and by the time she was 10 and
her close-knit family resolved to relocate to Sedona, she
was ready to expand her educational horizons yet again.
While both Deming
and Sedona are modestly sized communities, their cultures
and characters are worlds apart. "At first it was really
hard to transition," she said. But the attitude in Sedona
was considerably more supportive of moving on and growing,
of going to college and aspiring to ones dreams.
For Gardner, those
dreams have taken shape from the subjects she is most drawn
to. She is a superior athlete, leaving as part of her legacy
a number of trips to Arizona high school championship tournaments
as the leader of her Scorpions volleyball and basketball teams.
She had considered going into medicine or sculpting or playing
college basketball, but she has decided instead to study architecture
at Arizona State University.
my passionate side for art with physics and math," she
said. Gardner has already received two scholarships, the Violet
Richardson Award for the Soroptomists of Sedona and the Presidential
Award at ASU, and is hard at work filling out more applications.
After she completes her degree, shes like to work for
a while in the field, but eventually, she would like to own
her own business.
But while she is
looking ahead to the future, Gardner retains perspective on
the forces and people who have helped to shape her life. In
the four years shes spent at SRRHS, Easton cites her
work ethic, study skills and time management ability as some
of the most important knowledge she has developed. Her greatest
accomplishment, though, is "maintaining a 4.0, and really
wanting to learn and loving to learn, rather than just going
for the grade."
afforded by SRRHS certainly facilitated that process. Gardner
considers the small classes and the willingness of teachers
to foster a friendly, close atmosphere a contributing factor
in her success at school.
Mark Simmons has
known Gardner all four years of her high school career and
taught her biology and earth science classes. "Shes
a teachers joy," he said. "She always came
across as very competitive and hard-working, but knew when
to relax and lighten the mood." He also notes the skill
and competitive edge she brought to the basketball and volleyball
can be a blessing and a curse: pulled in all sorts of directions,
its sometimes difficult to pick a path. But Gardner
is remarkably self-possessed and level-headed, having handled
sports, school and work simultaneously with equal ease for
many years now.
This is the fifth
year she has been employed by Verne Smith of Smith Financial
doing general office and computer work. "Shes an
outstanding employee," said Smith. "Shes meticulous,
conscientious, she works without direction, and yet shes
able to be a good citizen at school."
Given the apparently
single-minded fashion in which she learns, works and achieves,
Gardner still manages to have her share of fun, and considers
her friends and family to be the most important things in
her life. She is also aunt to her older sisters new
baby a seven-month-old boy and clearly adores
her parents. Easton is inspired by her fathers landscape
painting, and though he doesnt market his own pieces,
she thinks he could with success.
Her own interest
in sculpting is perhaps an echo of her fathers artistic
bent. While taking an art class at school, Gardner discovered
that she enjoyed working with clay. She is especially attracted
to the Asian art that a teacher shared with her one day, and
she frequently sculpts Buddhas and temples.
Looking to the
future, Gardners sculptor-aesthetic and intrinsic understanding
of mathematical principles will undoubtedly result in some
truly magnificent architecture. Sedona is certainly lucky
to have had her for these seven short but important years
in her life, and perhaps these sentiments are best expressed
by her employer:
sure shes going on to do great things," said Smith.
"Were proud to have contributed to that in some