‘The Biggest Blessing God Ever Gave Me' Was Moving To Payson

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Immigration issues get Esther Linkey riled.

"I'm a Republican but immigration is an area where I disagree with my party," the Payson High School senior said.

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Esther Linkey will attend Arizona State University as a political science major with an eye on a law degree.

"It is unrealistic to get rid of that many people from here. You'd have to have the Mexican Gestapo and that's just wrong," she added.

Linkey is an Arizona native. Activities with school friends and sports comrades in Phoenix and Payson have made her sympathetic to "the human side" of the issue.

"In law, you don't want to be too hard or too lenient," the young woman who took three years of Spanish language, allows.

"I understand I can't get involved in government, snap," she said, punctuating her words with a snap of her fingers.

The teen won Arizona State University's $9,000 renewable President's Scholarship. Her major is political science. After she gets her bachelor's degree, she plans on law school.

Extended hands

"Nerdy, shy but liked."

Linkey's parents moved to Payson from Phoenix the summer after her sophomore year.

Without her five older sisters nearby, Linkey was miserable at first in her new town. However, the move turned out to be "the biggest blessing God ever gave me."

She found her peers at PHS were welcoming and more involved in school and community programs than teens she knew in Phoenix.

"Breanne Davis came up and asked me to eat lunch with her and her friends. I had one of those amazing feelings you get -- oh, somebody wants me. I am not alone," Linkey said.

Meg Shipley became like a sister after Linkey and she met in summer volleyball camp.

Linkey went from shy to outgoing.

Her best high school moments include earning varsity letters, two in cross country and one in track.

"To run distances you have to be motivated and push yourself to the limit. Even though it is hard, it lets you soak things in and just think. It's nice to look at the scenery up here," Linkey said.

Land skiing with friend Dan McGee was another fun time.

Then there was her first official date with Noah Sweet.

"Noah and I were friends before we dated. I told him I am not going to count it as a date until you can drive me," she said. Sweet took her to dinner at the Mandarin House.

Advanced placement courses in history, chemistry and physics have kept Linkey busy this school year.

Chemistry was the toughest.

History was more applicable to life because, "I think the past predicts the future."

"I learned a lot in the sciences, but I forgot a lot because it was so intense," she said.

In the weeks between now and throwing her cap in the air with her classmates, Linkey looks forward to attending her first prom with Sweet, a junior.

Linkey will spend her summer as a lifeguard at Taylor Pool and work with two of her sisters as a marketing assistant and art director in their art licensing company, Tre Sorelle.

A decade from now, Linkey sees herself as an intern, two-years out of law school, possibly working for the state.

Linkey considered becoming a doctor so she would be able to help people in third world countries such as Africa.

"I realized when you are involved in legislation you can actually get things done," she said.

This is the first in a series of stories about Payson High School seniors, recommended by their teachers, but randomly selected by Roundup staff.

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