When describing Dana Magyarics, Riverside-Brookfield High School guidance counselor Marsha Hubbuch tells the story of how Magyarics reacted when she told her she’d have to take honors science courses if she wanted to go into health sciences in college.

Magyarics had started high school with a full special education curriculum, but she just told Hubbuch, “Then I need to take that class.”

Magyarics has severe attention deficit disorder, which has made studying, or even just reading, a constant struggle for her.

“I just drift off, and I get really hyper,” she said. “Some people don’t ever study, but I have to sit down and study hard. It takes me longer to get things. I’m so slow.”

The extra time she put into studying helped her do well in higher level classes, but she said she also benefited from the many sports she participated in at RB, including track, diving and gymnastics. Magyarics said the discipline required in each sport, especially gymnastics, strengthened her ability to focus.

“I don’t know what I would have done without gymnastics,” she said. “I don’t know if I could have overcome everything without it.”

Magyarics started gymnastics in eighth grade, and she said that in her first few years there were times when she wanted to quit. She even got into diving as an escape from her main sport. Her mother always encouraged her to stick with it, however, and she said that made all the difference.

“There were so many times I wanted to quit, and she just said, ‘No, you can’t,'” she said. “My mom always said that it’s hard for people to go after their talent, and this is my talent.”

Magyarics’ commitment seemed to pay off: by her junior year, she was on RB’s Wall of Fame for the vault and bars events. Academically, she moved up to all regular classes her sophomore year, and earned a B in her honors chemistry class junior year.

This past year, however, Magyarics developed a hyperactive thyroid, which increased her heart beat and speeded up her metabolism. She said the condition left her shaky and weak. There was also no treatment; doctors told her she’d simply have to wait for it to go away.

“I was fine going to school, but I was always sweating-dripping sweat. My hands were always shaky and jittery,” she said. “I had to wait for it to go back to normal, and it took four months. I just got over it. It was absolutely horrible.”

Despite her medical problems, Magyarics still managed to finish the year with nearly straight A’s, and graduated just shy of the top third of her class. And while she couldn’t practice gymnastics as much as she wanted, she was still named Senior Athlete of the Year in Illinois, and was named to the state gymnastics team. Her condition subsided just enough to allow her to compete last month at the national competitions, where the Illinois team took first place overall.

Magyarics will also be pursuing the career that pushed her to take honors classes in the first place. Next year she’ll attend the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, studying to be a radiology/ultrasound technician. She’ll also continue with gymnastics at the collegiate level.

Looking back over her time at RB, Magyarics said she’s happy with how far she’s come. She said if there’s anything she’s going to take away from past four years, it’s not to give up.

“One lesson I learned: Shoot for the moon,” she said. “Don’t miss.”