By Janis Fontaine
At 15, Aubrey Deptula is already putting together an impressive academic and athletic résumé.
Aubrey, a sophomore at Boca Raton Community High School, earned the highest score in the nation on one of the toughest exams: media studies.
She and students from 15 other Palm Beach County schools were honored last month at an awards ceremony at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport.
Aubrey, Alexa Lisa Gauvin and Duc Tran won “Top in the Country” medals for getting the highest scores on their exams as part of the Cambridge Assessment International Education diploma program. Alexa outscored her peers in marine science and Duc in chemistry. Both attend Palm Beach Central High.
“I feel like I was better prepared,” Aubrey said of her achievement. “I spent a lot of time researching the processes and technology of media.”
Aubrey, who lives in coastal Boca Raton, is pursuing the diploma in a program that is part of the famed University of Cambridge. It “prepares school students for life, helping them develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning.”
She also plays volleyball.
“Aubrey is a leader on our campus,” Principal Susie King says. “She takes her education seriously and sets her goals high. She is an absolute pleasure to be around and has a kind word or smile for everyone.”
Media studies is the analysis, understanding and appreciation of the media in our everyday lives, and the media’s effects (intended or otherwise) on the public. The topic requires extensive analytical writing, and Aubrey, who will be 16 on June 14, competed against many older students.
For Aubrey, doing well on the exam had additional value: She’s trying to earn college scholarship money, including Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship.
“I’ve been working toward that as a way of giving back to my parents,” Aubrey said.
She’s interested in the medical field, which entails quite a bit of college.
But her writing is getting her noticed. Aubrey isn’t afraid to tackle difficult topics. She recently wrote an essay about how technology affects gender equality, and she’s interested in humanitarian topics, especially women’s rights.
“My parents say I have a way with words,” she said.
She’d make a fine journalist, but Aubrey is committed to the challenging STEM program at Boca Raton High and she wants a science-oriented career.
Her parents, Tom and Kelly Deptula, both work in the medical field, and she loves to listen in on her dad’s conversations about the advances in orthopedic medicine, equipment and treatment.
“I think it’s mind-blowing,” Aubrey says of the biomedical technology field. “They can manufacture things that actually save lives.”
This focus on studies is only part of the Aubrey Deptula equation. The 6-foot Aubrey is also a hitter and blocker who made Boca Raton’s volleyball team this past season. The Bobcats won a state championship in the 2016-17 school year.
At one tournament, Aubrey felt overwhelmed by the demands of the sport she loves and the weight of projects due in AP biology and AP world history. Her coach, Brett Sikora, stepped up.
“I just broke down, and he really helped me,” Aubrey said.
Sikora said he used his experience working with college athletes to help Aubrey.
“It’s all about time management,” Sikora said.
His tips included making a list and prioritizing projects by due date and breaking down big projects into smaller tasks. The practical solutions seemed to help her refocus her energy.
“Aubrey is an incredible learner and she works very hard,” Sikora said.
Aubrey seems to have a knack for learning not only from her own actions but from both the mistakes and achievements of others. Playing on a strong team with eight returning seniors helped her.
“It all comes down to paying attention,” Sikora said. “Aubrey is always watching and learning.”
Aubrey admits she’s very competitive, but she has a soft heart. She plans to spend her summer working as a camp counselor, teaching kids about sports.
She would love to play volleyball in college. At least she thinks so. That’s more than two years away.
And volleyball scholarships are hard to come by, Sikora said, but require just as big of a commitment as more popular sports.
For now, Aubrey still finds time to just relax. You might find her playing beach volleyball or hanging out with her family, which includes two older brothers, Brent, currently studying at Florida State University, and Ryan, a senior at Boca High.
There’s been one side benefit of Aubrey’s achievements, and it’s one all girls with big brothers can relate to: “They’re starting to take me a little more seriously,” she said.