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Meet McKenna!


Congrats to McKenna Franks on graduating from Licking Valley!


McKenna Franks has a passion for animals.

“I’ve always had a deeper connection with animals than what some people seem to have,” she said. “It seems like the right course of action for me.”

As she prepares to graduate from Licking Valley High School, McKenna is planning to study pre-veterinary science while minoring in biomedical engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Over the years, she’s helped care for a long list of family pets, including rabbits, chickens, ducks and turkeys. Their family currently has four birds, two dogs and a cat.

McKenna said she’s interested in taking care of traditional pets, such as dogs and cats, as well as the more exotic pets, like lizards and snakes. She’s also interested in veterinary surgery.

“She’s been saying she wants to be a vet since she was 3,” said her mother, Melynda Cain.

Coming up through Licking Valley Schools, McKenna has always had a strong interested in science classes and extracurricular activities.

During high school ,she participated in the marching band flag section, color guard and winter guard, bowling, chess club and quiz team. She also started a Dungeons and Dragons club.

In her free time, she’s been involved in community theater — both as an actor and behind the scenes — and plays the violin. She’s trying out the guitar and clarinet and is working on learning several languages, including Scottish, Japanese, French and Russian.  She’s also been involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism, which recreates Medieval culture.

“I’ve always been a very study-intensive person,” she said.

When it came time to choose a college, McKenna said she was drawn to the University of Tennessee for its safe, beautiful campus and its friendly people.

She’ll be seven hours from home and is both nervous and excited about being on her own.

“I’ll be trying to test the waters and function as an adult,” she said.

McKenna, who has been supported by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities, since she was a sophomore in high school, had started virtual learning about a month before Ohio’s schools shifted online, so her routine wasn’t disrupted much.

They are planning on having a small graduation party with family before McKenna moved down to Florida with her grandparents to help them out after her grandfather recovers from surgery.

She’s planning on talking to her advisors by phone — instead of attending college orientation — and starting classes in Knoxville in August.

Melynda, her husband Jesse, and McKenna’s two older sisters and two younger brothers are very proud of her accomplishments and can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in the future.

“She can do anything she can put her mind to,” her mother said. “By the time she can figure out a way to do it, she’s already done and is miles ahead of everyone else.”

Photos provided by McKenna’s family.

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