Senior Spotlight: Elizabeth Keck faces challenges with her head up

Editor's note: With the help of staff at our local high schools, we identified a few students who stand out for the challenges they faced in their school careers.

BY LAURA DECORTE

Intern

Elizabeth Keck, who will graduate with her 88 classmates from La Jolla Country Day School on May 29, has faced many difficulties throughout her life.

Her ability to make it through these difficult times is what inspired the faculty at LJCDS to choose her for The Light's Senior Spotlight.

Valencia Hamman, co-director of college counseling at the school, wrote in an e-mail that Elizabeth has "taken a rigorous curriculum. … Her transcript is a sea of A's as she has achieved at an extremely impressive level."

Elizabeth said, "I want to emphasize that there's no reason I should be at Country Day."

She explained why: "My stepdad can't work for health reasons, and my mom has to take care of my brother. But somehow, God makes a way. I get my schoolwork done despite time limits and the sometimes-rocky home environment caused by my brother's condition. My life is a miracle."

Her stepfather has Crohn's disease, and an adopted younger brother is bipolar. Her

stepfather's disease, which causes inflamed bowels, is also complicated by the fact that he has a bleeding disorder and is allergic to the medication, she wrote in an e-mail.

Often, her mother has to take him to the emergency room at night when he has relapses.

Elizabeth said her younger brother also has violent episodes and sometimes goes through periods of aggravation.

Staying involved

Her commitments at home and commute from El Cajon have limited her extracurricular activities, but Hamman said, "You would never know it looking at Elizabeth's list of activities."

She's in the Madrigals choir that has traveled around the country, been in several theater productions and become quite a writer, the counselor added.

"Writing has been an essential part of her life and her expression," Hamman wrote. "She writes as often as she can and is constantly looking at the world for ideas that she can fold into her writing."

Expanding 'family'

Another member was added to their household when a few years ago, Elizabeth wrote, she ran into an old friend on the streets who had become homeless. She and her family opened their home to her and tried to make room, and for a while Elizabeth shared her room with her sister and her friend.

Though her friend had never attended school and could barely read when she was 18, with the love and support of Elizabeth's family, she acquired her GED, obtained a job and moved out to live on her own.

Elizabeth is very dedicated when it comes to her schooling. Her commute to La Jolla Country Day is long--she leaves her house at 6 a.m. and gets back home after a long day at 7 p.m.

Plowing through

Despite the challenges, Elizabeth keeps her head up and plows through her schoolwork.

Hamman said, "As is evident, Elizabeth embodies all that we encourage at our school: a scholar and artist of character."

Elizabeth has applied to several Ivy League and second-tier colleges, and was accepted to Cornell University, Swarthmore and Amherst. She settled on Swarthmore in Pennsylvania, Hamman noted.

Elizabeth said she hopes to study languages and become a writer. She also wants to help and serve others through what she does in the future.

"What I have realized through my experience at Country Day is that income does not measure success and wealth is not a barrier to misery," she said. "I have peace and joy despite my circumstance, and I want to share this message of hope."

Laura Decorte is a junior at High Tech High International.

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