Katelyn Reed
Student of the Year

 From a very young age, I’ve always done my best to overcome obstacles in the best way possible, while also trying to overachieve at everything I did. Many of my friends, family, and teachers would describe me as a hardworking girl, who is smart, ambitious, and considerate.  

My family history is filled with true examples of perseverance and hard work.  My mom is Filipino and my dad is Hungarian Irish, which makes me half white and half asian. My mom had me when she was 30 but when she was 28 she moved to the United States from the Phillipines to have a better life for me and my half-brother. My dad on the other hand, was born in Louisiana but his grandparents moved to the United States after being stuck in concentration camps during the Holocaust. My grandmother was only 12 when she moved to the United States. Her and her family were held in concentration camps by Germany in the 1940s, but luckily they were able to survive and escape to the United States. Years later, my parents met and got married, then had me. They’ve been married for 13 years and have been taking care of me and my half-brother, Bryan, who is 20 and in college. No matter what, Bryan and I are always doing our best to make our parents proud. Ever since I was little, my dad has always told me that when you receive something that you worked hard to earn, it feels better than just having something given to you, which is why I always give my 100% effort into everything that I do. 

At school. I'm always doing my best to reach and exceed my expectations. For example, when I was in elementary school, my AR goal would be around 50-70 points. However, I would do my best to overachieve that goal by earning 100-200 points. Making myself and my parents proud is one of my main priorities in life. Whatever it is, whether it be academically or personally, I am continuously trying to grow and better myself in any way. One of my main motives is that there is always room for improvement. I think that it’s important to be able to recognize areas in yourself where you could grow and then work on improving yourself. However, even though I am constantly working inside of school, I do have many enjoyable hobbies outside of school. Some of my hobbies include swimming, baking, drawing, and water-skiing. During the summer, I am constantly swimming and water-skiing. I find it very relaxing and amusing. I also love to bake and draw. I think it's entertaining to try out new recipes and be able to experiment with different ingredients that make the end product taste good. Drawing is something that I do to calm myself down during stressful times. Sometimes I’ll doodle and sometimes I'll even work on serious sketches that take hours to complete. Overall, I do a lot of simple things but for the most part, I’m just a kid trying to make her parents proud and make life the best it can be. 

When I was 11, I started to really become interested in the mind.  I was intrigued by all of the different ways that it works and why it is the way it is.  This is why I would like to become a psychologist. Being able to study the mind while also being able to counsel people is one of the reasons that I want to become a psychologist. I want to be able to be there for people who don't have anyone.  Many people, including young children and teenagers, feel overlooked and think that no one is there for them. I want to be that person that they can talk to and help them get better by understanding how their mind works and using best practices to support their mental health. I am already someone my friends and family come to when they need advice, or someone to rant to. The path I plan to take to accomplish this goal of mine is studying psychology at LSU to work on earning a psychology degree.  I hope to be able to have an internship that will allow me to gain more experience in psychology before graduating and earning my official license.  

One issue that is important to me and has had an impact on my life is when I saw my best friend suffering with her mental health. This is one of the experiences that made me realize what I wanted to do for my career. It has also made me who I am today by shaping my character. Because of what she was going through, I now constantly check in on my friends  making sure they know that I am always there for them. After seeing how alone and unheard she felt, I saw that it's important to consistently check in on your friends, which is why I am so caring today. I always want my friends to know that they have someone to talk to, and that they aren’t alone. I want them to know that they don’t have to bottle up their emotions because they will always have someone who is there for them. 

Another issue that is important to me and has had an impact on my life is the Covid-19 pandemic. During the early months of the pandemic, many people were rude and racist towards Asians because they pinned the blame of the virus on them. This has affected me because everytime my mom and I would go into stores, I would see people give us nasty looks or move away from us. Some people would even come up to us and say rude things such as we’ll give them the virus, or we were the reason for this pandemic. When I really saw how normalized racism towards Asians had become, I started looking back on my life, and realized that people had been prejudiced towards me my whole life by pulling back their eyes to mock me and calling me “ching-chong.” Those experiences are important to me because it formed one of my main principles, that it's not okay to treat someone differently just because they have a different background, religion, or race than you. Many people don’t realize how normalized it is today, and I think that if you hear or see something regarding that, you should most definitely speak up about it. 

Last but not least, an issue that is important to me and has had an impact on my life is losing my dog, Zoe. Last month I had to deal with her death, and it was really hard for my family and me. I’ve had her since I was a baby, practically growing up with her. Having to adapt to her being gone after seeing her everyday for the past 11 years has been really hard on me. This has had an impact on my life because it has taught me how to deal with grief and how to come to acceptance with challenging obstacles in my life. Even today, I am still learning how to live without her, and move past it. However, this situation is important to me because it also shaped me into someone who looks for the brighter side of things. Instead of constantly crying over the fact that she is not with me anymore, I try to think of how she is no longer in pain and in a better place. 

 Everything that I have experienced in my life has molded me into the person that I am  today. These experiences have shaped my character and influenced the decisions I make on a daily basis. All of these experiences and accomplishments will help to build my future into something great.