OCN sat down with Kaylyn, 17, to talk about why she'd make a great candidate for this honored role.

It's not every day that you get a chance to meet someone so young that wants to change the world. OCN had the opportunity to meet Kaylyn Townsend, a current student at Golden High School, to learn about her venture into helping rid the world of blood cancer by campaigning for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Students of the Year.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Students of the Year "is a philanthropic leadership development program for exemplary high school students. During the campaign, participants foster professional skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing, and project management in order to raise funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society."

Students have to be nominated by a previous participant, and Kaylyn's dedication to the cause, her schoolwork, and extracurriculars are what make her a perfect contender. On a personal note, Kaylyn is no stranger to blood cancer, as she has witnessed a close family friend undergo chemotherapy to rid herself of this painful and frightening disease. Kaylyn has a goal of raising $50,000 by February 27, 2021, and if our interview with her is any indication of success, we think she'll hit her mark.

For more information on how you can help Kaylyn reach her goal, you may visit her fundraising page.

What sort of leadership skills do you feel that you possess make you a good fit for Students of the Year?

Before this campaign, I wasn’t really sure how I was going to be able to tell people what to do and ask people to do things for me. But what I quickly learned is that I have to be commanding, but polite. Because I’ve learned these two traits I believe this makes a good leader because, in order to get things done, you must ask them from other people, because you can’t always do things yourself. But you also can’t be bossy, or rude about it. Part of being a good leader is being kind, and compassionate, and knowing that sometimes you can’t always expect things to get done the way you want it. But overall, with all of the other skills I’ve learned and obtained, patience is the skill I am most proud of learning from this campaign. 

What have you learned about yourself through this process?

I have learned I am so much more capable of communicating than I thought. Through this process, I have had to give presentations, explain why this campaign is important to me, and why someone should give me the time of day. I have learned how to be fearless, talking to people who have made a job in their world is intimidating, so by being involved with this campaign, my bravery and confidence has flourished because of this opportunity. 

What other activities are you involved in aside from LLS?

Besides setting up and running this campaign for the LLS, I am involved with soccer, for both club and high school, swim team, National Honors Society, Interact Club, and I also work as a lifeguard at Applewood Athletic Club. 

What’s been the biggest challenge of participating in Students of the Year?

The biggest challenge while I’ve been participating in Students of the Year is probably asking large companies for sponsorships. Being in front of adults who have a very successful company, and only being 17 years old while asking them for money is very scary and intimidating at times. 

I have to ask, with all the struggles imposed by COVID-19, how are you working around fundraising, schoolwork, and other commitments in light of the pandemic?

I think since our world has been in such a haze by the Coronavirus, everyone has adapted, and so have I. So what may not be normal in any other year, is my normal, and something I just, unfortunately, have to deal with. But with school and other commitments, I know I have to get both done somehow, so really I’ve just had to take a few nights a week, and just bust out some work with this campaign. However, having a team of family and friends around me to help me succeed is really what has been the big helper in this whole process. If I didn’t have the support I’ve been given, I’m sure I would be drowning in work, which is why I am so grateful for the amazing people I have around me. 

What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment in this process so far?

I feel like my biggest accomplishment in this process is probably connecting with PIN Business Network. They have opened lots of doors of advertising and help for me, which I really appreciate. However, the whole campaign is so rewarding, and even if I don’t win, I know that I have participated in something amazing. Being in this campaign tells me that I have been a part of putting cancer to an end, helping little boys, girls, men, and women in their fight against cancer, is probably my biggest accomplishment in this campaign. 

What do you hope to be when you grow up?

I hope to be something in the medical field. Any occupation I have thought about has always stayed within this realm. I’ve bounced back between a nurse, or a physical therapist, or even someone who analyzes cancer cells. But with all the change and the years I have spent exploring different options, the pattern within my thoughts always ends up back within the medical field.