Duke University’s Student of the Month: CMA student on an academic roll

Dec. 16, 2013 @ 11:29 AM

Tyler Booker, a senior at City of Medicine Academy, didn’t always put his best foot forward as a freshman.

And as a result, his grades suffered.
“To be honest, I wasn’t very, very serious about school freshman year,” Booker said. “It was sophomore year when I had my reality check, like I needed to get serious.”
That must seem like a long time ago for Booker, an aspiring radiologists, who now sports a slightly better than 4.0 GPA and is solidly planted in the top 15 percent of his class.
Booker got on a roll his junior year, scoring straight As the entire way through.
And he’s worked hard to match that feat through the first half of his final year at CMA.
“Junior year, when I made straight As it was like ‘OK, this is it, this is where I need to be, this is what I need to continue doing,’” Booker said. “It doesn’t even have to be high As, but knowing that I’m doing my best and maintaining a grade to show it as well.”
Booker’s dedication to his school work and the academic growth he’s experienced the past two years led Tarica Rawlinson, the CMA student services coordinator, to recommend Booker for the Student of the Month Award.
“He has won the respect of his classmates and teachers alike,” Rawlinson said. “He’s just overall hard-working, in and out school.”
She said Booker is constantly looking for ways to improve.
“His work ethic is second to none,” Rawlinson said. “He’s always looking for ways to stretch.”
Outside school, Booker studies Tae kwan do, something he has done for nearly five years.
It’s through that sport that Booker has learned the art of respect, both giving and receiving, and it’s served him well, making him more confident in his interactions with people.
“Taking class and having people older than me with a younger rank than me show that kind of respect, it kind of warmed me up to the feeling that everyone deserves certain respect,” Booker said.
Like a lot seniors, Booker has been busy this fall planning for life after graduation.
He has sought early admission to UNC-Chapel Hill where he hopes to study biology en route to becoming a radiologist.
Booker’s second choice is Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, but his heart is set on UNC.
“I couldn’t do early [admission] for Johns Hopkins because it was a binding commitment and if I got into both Johns Hopkins and Carolina, I would have preferred to go to Carolina,” Booker said.
He got interested in a medical-related career through watching such shows as “CSI” and “Law and Order” with his parents before they divorced.
Booker initially wanted to become a police officer, but thought better of it after weighing the risks.
He flirted with the idea of becoming a lawyer, but was uncomfortable with the idea of representing criminals.
And he had a change of heart about pursuing a career as a neurosurgeon after considering the immense responsibility that is associated with a profession that requires life and death decision-making.
“I just felt like that would be too much on my conscience,” Booker said.
He said the seed for radiology was planted the summer before his ninth-grade year when he participated in Duke’s Area Health Education Center (AHEC) summer program and got the chance to watch technicians skillfully administer radiation to cancerous tissue in patients.
“I thought that was something very helpful, something that can save lives, and something I want to do,” Booker said.
Other than Tae kwon do, Booker said he doesn’t have much free time to pursue other hobbies and passions.
He’s somewhat of a gamer and enjoys listening to music, especially songs that inspire him.
Part of the reason he’s so busy is that he helps to care for an older brother with autism.
“I’m usually at home watching him on the weekends when my parents have to go out or I don’t work,” Booker said.
He said caring for his brother, who is three years older, has helped him to become a more responsible person.
“From the time I was in second-or third grade, I just had to be mindful of him and concerned for his well-being, making sure he is OK, he’s safe,” Booker said. “It made me more conscious of not just him but other things that I needed to focus on and be responsible for.”


Duke University and its Office of Durham and Regional Affairs are proud to sponsor Duke University’s Durham Student of the Month. The Office of Durham and Regional Affairs strives to broaden and strengthen engagement with Durham and the Research Triangle region. Visit community.duke.edu to learn more about the office’s educational outreach, neighborhood quality of life and economic development initiatives.


Age: 18

GPA: 4.0
School: City of Medicine Academy
Favorite Book: Anything by Rick Riordan, but particularly the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.
Favorite Music: Songs that evoke emotion. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day is the current favorite.