Editor’s Note: The “Proud of Them” initiative recognises the positive achievements of people between the ages of 10 and 25. Through a public nomination process, individuals are honoured in the categories of academics, careers, business, sports, culture or community service. Each person selected will be featured for six months at a time on billboards throughout the Cayman Islands, and will also receive a certificate.
At 18 years old, when it comes to achieving her goals, Kylie Thompson is no stranger to perseverance.
An academically successful student and environmentalist, Ms Thompson’s hard work and tenacity was recently rewarded with entry into prestigious, Ivy League institution Cornell University to study environmental science. She has just completed an associate’s degree in science from the University College of the Cayman Islands.
Ms Thompson’s journey toward becoming an all-round academic achiever and environmentalist began during her high school years. Her resolve to make a difference in the community and positive attitude led her to become extensively involved in after school activities.
In particular, concern about the environment made that issue more than just a hobby for her. She took on a leadership role in this area, coordinating participation by her after school clubs in “Earth Day” clean ups that happen each year in the islands.
Aside from supporting worthy causes, she also strives to encourage and assist any of her peers who ask for advice.
When notified that she had received the “Proud of Them” award, Ms Thompson was so taken aback that her first quick response was “are you serious?” After the news had a chance to sink in, she declared: “It was a great surprise to be recognised and I feel completely honoured.”
She said she gained her drive from her mother.
“She always impressed on me the importance of an education, and wanted me to go to university and study abroad. She has sacrificed many countless hours helping me to get to this point,” she said.
Ms Thompson advises other young people to be steadfast in their determination to succeed.
“You can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you put in the effort and are willing to sacrifice. Be optimistic and always believe in yourself; don’t let negativity bring you down. Don’t let peer pressure get to you, do what’s best for you and make informed decisions,” she said. “Choose a career path that you will enjoy. Life will be much more satisfying working in a job that you like, than working in a job that makes you miserable. Show respect to others, be open to advice and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Learn from your mistakes. Make the most of each day. Set out targets that will direct you to your desired goal and have a back-up plan. Finally, always pray for guidance from above.”
Some other habits that Ms Thompson uses to keep herself on track are to always double check her work, to finish what she starts and to ensure that everything that she does is to a high standard.
This innate discipline will help Ms Thompson stay the course at university and also in her personal and professional lives. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree from Cornell, she is looking to build a career in environmental science. She said her ultimate goal is to make the wider public more aware of the easy steps that they can take to protect the environment.