Durham County

Student leaves legacy of research and science and at Jordan High

In a few weeks, Alexandra Gray will graduate from Jordan High School.

But Gray is leaving a legacy that she hopes will endure long after she is gone.

Gray has created a speaker series at Jordan High that has brought top scientific researchers from the region to campus to share their expertise with budding scientists, and she has made sure that it will go on even after she is gone.

JSH Principal Susan Taylor beams when she talks about Gray. “Her work to bring real life scientists to our school to support learning was awesome,” Taylor said. “She brought a program to our school and took steps to ensure it continues even after graduation.”

Gray got the idea for the speaker series last summer after attending the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Massachusetts.

“I got to hear Nobel Laureates and well-renowned researchers speak about their research and I was really, really inspired and I wanted by classmates to have the same kind of experiences,” Gray said.

She convinced six researchers, mostly from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to visit Jordan to talk about their ground-breaking work in such disciplines as concussions, anxiety and how to relieve it, interpersonal space in adolescents and oncology in dogs.

“I called maybe eight (researchers) and only two said no,” Gray said of the researchers. “They were all pretty impressed and were flattered that I wanted them to come, and they wanted to share what they had with the students.”

After graduation, Gray will attend UNC-Chapel Hill to major in psychology and maybe minor in neuroscience.

From there, Gray said she will likely pursue a doctorate, and maybe do so in Scotland where she can earn one in a shorter period of time.

Gray said a larger goal is to help young people engage in science at a younger age.

“With school now, in your classes you don’t see what research is being done out there, and I think it’s really great stuff and you can get involved and even get in a lab before you go to college,” Gray said.

Gray, who lost her father to cancer when she was seven, has been inspired to excel by her mother, who has sent her to conferences over the summers to explore and pursue her dreams.

“It’s just been me and my mom,” Gray said. “She’s been a great mom and has encouraged me to do what I want to do.”

Greg Childress: 919-419-6645, @gchild6645

Student of the Month

Alexandra Gray

Age: 17

GPA: 4.8

School: Jordan High School

Favorite book: “A Dog’s Purpose”

Favorite music: Pop (She also has a fondness for Disney tunes)

Favorite movie: “Lort of the Rings” triology

Favorite class: AP Psychology