Science plays a large role in the life of La Center High School senior Kaitlin Boyle.
When she was a young child, she had a small telescope kit and enjoyed looking at the planets and stars in the night sky. As she grew older, she turned her sights inward on something closer to home: the anatomy of the human body. Specifically, Boyle wants to focus on cancer treatment in children and aspires to be a pediatric oncologist in the future.
“Human anatomy has a special place in my heart. When my mom was 8, her dad passed away from cancer,” she said. “I never got to meet him but when I got older I started to learn what cancer was and I was fascinated with the subject.”
Boyle is valedictorian of her 2020 class at La Center High School, a school district she’s almost always been a part of as her family moved to the area when she was 3. However, La Center High School isn’t the only school Boyle is getting a degree from. She is set to receive her an associate’s degree with a focus on biology from Clark College in June.
While attending high school and Clark College, Boyle volunteered at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center to get experience around the medical field. She spent more than 350 hours helping at the hospital while completing her coursework and earning a 4.0 grade point average from both Clark College and La Center High School.
To prepare for a future in the medical field, Boyle did more than just schoolwork. She recently shadowed a pediatric oncologist at Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health Sciences University. The job-shadowing experience at Doernbecher confirmed her love for the field and made her even more excited for her future, which is starting to shape up since she set her sights on pediatric oncology during her freshman year at La Center High School.
“I specifically want to be a pediatric oncologist because I have always loved kids and I really like the medical field,” she said.
Boyle plans to transfer to Washington State University Vancouver in the fall where she will work toward a bachelor’s degree in biology in basic medical science. Once she’s finished getting that degree, she will take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and begin her journey to becoming a pediatric oncologist.
“I love to learn and I’m just really excited to take more and more courses in things I’m passionate about,” Boyle said about her aspirations. “I look forward to challenging myself academically.”
After WSU Vancouver, Boyle is hoping to stay in Washington state and go to the Elson. S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University’s Pullman campus. She visited the school last summer and said she loved the aesthetic and feel of the campus.
As for high school, Boyle said she was disappointed with how her experience ended; however, she understands why certain actions were taken in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak and said students should still feel proud of how far they have come and what they’ve accomplished.
“The circumstances should not diminish the feelings of pride and joy. Students should still feel that. Looking ahead into the future, life is long and there’s a lot of different wonderful things that can happen,” Boyle said.
Outside of her academic experience, Boyle played club volleyball for six years and found a place on the court with the high school team. She also enjoys going hiking and “seeing biology of all kinds” in nature. Besides sports and going outside, Boyle enjoys painting, drawing and spending her days putting her thoughts down on canvas through oil.
While Boyle may have her plans for the future nearly set in stone, she said that other students and classmates shouldn’t feel pressured to know what they want to do once they graduate.
“I don’t think anyone should be pressured and everyone is on their own schedule,” she said. “I say it’s perfectly fine not knowing what you want to do with your life. Go out and experience everything life has to offer.”