Palmetto High School senior Kaylan Coke interned in the Florida International University Chemistry Department this summer. She worked with graduate and PHD students who were conducting personal research into anti-cancer and anti-bacterial compounds.
Coke wanted to work in the FIU program because she is interested in a career in medicine. Because chemistry is an integral part of medicine, she wanted to get a better sense of chemistry than what she was exposed to in her high school Advanced Placement Chemistry class.
“I’ve done other intern programs, with a dermatologist and radiologist,” Coke says.
Now she is planning to work as an intern at the Women’s Fund, an organization that not only promotes women’s issues, but also combats human trafficking. That internship is in keeping with the role community service plays in her life.
“Community service has been a huge part of my life,” she says. “My own family, we would sponsor a family and provide them with Christmas gifts.
We feel it is important to give back because we are fortunate.”
She says if her parents heard of a family in need through their church, they would help the family. Sometimes the families were in Miami and other times they would be outside the U.S. They would personally visit the family they helped, even going to Jamaica to surprise one family with gifts.
“Those were humbling experiences,” Coke says.
She has participated on church mission trips to impoverished areas of Miami.
“We went into different parts of Miami and helped out at different homeless shelters,” she says. “I’ve gone on smaller mission trips. We would go and feed the homeless in the afternoon.”
Coke has her own community service project, collecting hotel toiletries and creating packages that are donated to the
Agape Network for women who are in need. Cope says many of the women are battling mental illnesses or addiction.
Coke has been presented with the opportunity to create a class on something that she is interested in. So she is putting together the curriculum for a journalism class that will help the women hone their writing skills.
“Journalism is a passion of mine,” she says.
Her interest in journalism is what led her to write for the school paper. She has moved up in the ranks over the years and is now the managing editor. Last year she was the Focus editor.
“That’s the main focus of the paper, the center spread,” she says.
As managing editor, her duties include making sure the paper runs efficiently. She will also work closely with the online editor. She loves working with the design of the paper and she will work toward improving the writing skills of the staff.
“The Panther is extremely successful,” Coke says. “We win awards.”
The new staff already has one issue under its belt. They put together the last issue of the paper before school ended.
Coke is the senior class treasurer and a member of the Palmetto badminton team. Last year she was seeded second in girls’ singles. She is also interested in drama, particularly musical theater.
As for college, she says she is keeping her options open and applying to a variety of institutions.
— By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld