The challenges of life seem only to spur on one Killeen High School junior to do everything she can to help others.
Kayla West is one of 12 Central Texas Incredible Kids the Central Texas Youth Coalition awarded this year.
The nomination for Kayla describes a series of challenges that could have brought chaos and yet the determined student weathered the storms and put the needs of others above her own.
Her parents separated and divorced when Kayla was 10. Two years later, her mother married a soldier and the family relocated to a new state.
Beginning a new life with a reconfigured family in a new state, the young student joined the school choir, FFA and Future Business Leaders of America.
Within 18 months, Kayla, her mother and stepfather were on the move again, this time relocating to the Fort Hood area where she enrolled at Killeen High School. During that time, her father also remarried.
The resilient student continued to push on, again joining an FFA chapter and the KHS choir and also joined the “Rowdy Roos” spirit organization.
The multiple moves led Kayla to take summer school to maintain her high school credits. She also received a diagnosis of dyslexia, requiring her to spend extra time to keep up with her studies.
Today, Kayla is taking veterinary technician classes and plans to enter veterinary medicine as a career. She also has a part-time job.
This student’s incredible attributes don’t end there. She is also an avid volunteer, accruing more than 400 hours of community service over the past year.
Kayla has raised money to fight cancer, diabetes, PTSD, hunger, homelessness, child abuse and other causes. She has volunteered for the Salvation Army and for Keep Killeen Beautiful and has laid wreaths on veterans’ graves.
However, the work nearest to her heart is a charity called Mito Action, which supports a rare disorder called mitochondrial disease.
Two of Kayla’s cousins have this condition. When Kayla spent time assisting her cousins with breathing tubes and monitoring their condition, she said it changed her perspective.
She sells popcorn and has made Valentine’s Day baskets to raise money to battle mitochondrial disease. She also spearheaded a charity pageant that raised $1,600 for the charity.
According to the nomination form: “Most importantly, Kayla has a very kind and giving spirit. We often see teens who are into selfies with their cell phones rather than selfless service. Kayla has a very positive outlook and always sees the good in every situation.”
The full list of honorees includes the following:
Jacoby Calloway, fourth grade, Sparta Elementary School, Belton ISD
Joey DeLeon, fourth grade, Jefferson Elementary, Temple ISD
Kosi Eneli, seventh grade, South Belton Middle School
Emma Rose Gill, seventh grade, home-schooled
Matthias Lease, fourth grade, Providence Preparatory School
Kamryn Mayberry, senior, Copperas Cove High School
Emily McBreen, ninth grade, Salado High School
Yasmin Rivas, senior, Temple High School and Edwards Academy
Caitlin Stanke, 10th grade, Rogers High School
Ciara Stanke, eighth grade, Rogers Middle School
Alfred Eric Story, eighth grade, Gatesville Junior High School
Kayla West, junior, Killeen High School
April 19, 2017
This story is a collaboration between Killeen ISD and Copperas Cove ISD communications offices