Kayla Tabari has always been a bit of an old soul.
In third grade, she took time out of her busy, first-day schedule to ask her teacher’s thoughts on the Iranian hostage crisis. Not really what most 7- or 8-year-olds are chatting about on the playground but Tabari was used to talking with adults and learning about international news. Growing up with divorced parents, Tabari explained she was always part of family decisions. As a result, she gravitated toward politics at each school and reaching out to adults while doing research or work she found appealing — even when Tabari didn’t know the person. Now the soon-to-be Carlmont High School grad is planning to study nursing at the University of San Francisco with hopes of continuing to learn more about bioethics — the study of controversial ethics brought about by advances in biology and medicine.
“Kayla is an extraordinary young lady with an unusual amount of maturity,” said Activities Director Jim Kelly, who added that Tabari has served on leadership all four years culminating in a position as student body vice president, attended professional seminars to further her education and had many internships — work she does of her own volition.
Finding satisfaction in herself and owning her own decisions was a challenge for Tabari, one she admitted to still be working on.
“As young people, we often seek validation from various realms of social media, from our parents, our teachers or our academic or athletic performance. As we go off to college, it is so very important to remember that we are doing this for ourselves. Learning is a lifelong process, and this is one of our biggest steps in that process,” she said.
Realizing that took time and lots of experience.
Tabari first found comfort on the stage. She performed in an elementary school play. After the performance, her parents put Tabari into dance classes. Tabari has since done multiple performances with school productions and even Broadway By the Bay. During her freshman year at Carlmont, Tabari played the namesake in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” an interesting challenge for an Iranian girl. But Tabari enjoys how performance can be used to start conversations.
Tabari joined leadership while at Ralston Middle School and continued that work all four years while at Carlmont. Tabari noticed there was not as much activity in leadership by freshmen, so she created an outreach program with feeder middle schools which continues today. She chose to attend the Belmont school citing a desire to be in setting with so much diversity. As a result of the diversity, Tabari saw unique challenges in finding activities that would appeal to a diverse student body when she helped with assemblies sophomore and junior years.
During her sophomore year, Tabari broke away from performing and began really looking into the medical field, in which she had much interest. She started volunteering at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame. Then, the summer before her junior year, Tabari attended a Stanford University lecture series that allowed her to more deeply explore the medical field options. Last summer, Tabari added volunteering at Stanford Hospital to the list.
It was when Tabari’s grandfather was nearing the end of his life that she began to be interested in ethical issues with medicine. Bioethics, as the field is called, piqued her interest but Tabari wasn’t sure of the job possibilities in the field. Since then, Tabari has gone out of her way to attend conventions, converse and meet with those in the field, and ultimately decided it’s an emerging area in which she’d like to be involved.
Tabari determined getting into nursing would be a good start. She’ll be attending USF as a university scholar to study nursing — the first step in her plan that includes multiple degrees and hopefully teaching bioethics.
“The road to college graduation will feel so much more meaningful if we are learning to improve for ourselves, not simply to be validated by one of those sources of approval. In order to truly succeed in almost anything, we need to love and believe in ourselves,” said Tabari. “If we can do all that we can with all that we have, that is all that we can ask for. We are a generation too full of potential to worry about the approval of others. That is certainly one of the most powerful lessons that I have learned, and it has made such a difference in the way that I view my education and my future.”
Carlmont High School’s graduation will be held 10 a.m. Friday, June 7 on campus, 1400 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont.
Great Grads is in its eighth year profiling one graduating senior from each of our local schools. Schools have the option to participate. Those that choose to participate are asked to nominate one student who deserves recognition.
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