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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

Senior Profile: Keianna Vera


I sat one day, about three years ago, with Keianna Vera. She told me her story up to that point. On that day, I knew that this young lady was going to go places. She told me about her roller coaster ride of a life. She said all this with a smile on her face and a little emotion in her eyes. Today that same smile was there while we talked about many things as her senior year has about a quarter left to go.

“Not too shabby,” is how she answered my first question about how her senior year was going and, yes, that huge smile was there. “It is better than I thought it was going to be; I thought it would be harder, but it has been pretty easy.” And she added again for effect: “Not too shabby.”

Keianna is looking forward to her future now. She has been accepted to the University of Idaho and plans on attending in the fall to study Agriculture. I asked her, “Why agriculture?”

“Because I love the study of crops and it interests me a lot,” she said. “I want to be able to grow my own food and donate to those in need.”

That is just one example of a young lady who could have a bunch of resentment towards the world but does not. She wants to help others. But I should explain her situation a bit.

Keianna never knew that her dad and her mom had “issues,” to say the least. Then, one day, she found herself and her sister living at her uncle’s house here in the Coulee. “We were forced upon him,” she said. Not long after that, her uncle and his whole family moved away and left them here. “We bounced from house to house for a while; some of them were not good places.”

Then Keianna found the Barrys. Jim and Joette took her and her sister in.

“They are the family I wish I was born into,” Keianna said, pausing a moment as the water misted in her eyes for just a second. “They are loving, caring and supportive of everything I do, They are my role models. I want to serve others like they serve people.” She had to pause again. “They showed me what love really looks like.” Keianna ended this with a giant smile and was able to keep the tears back.

We then spoke about the influences in her life besides the Barrys. I asked her who has influenced her the most at Lake Roosevelt. Without missing a beat, she said, “You, Mr. Utz. I aspire to be like you. You know everyone’s names, and you treat everyone with respect, even when they don’t deserve it. You have been so kind to me and others. You give really good advice, too.” (OK, so now it is me with the water works.)

I asked about other influences, outside of school, and once again Keianna answered without hesitation, “God.” And then she added, “If you study the Bible, it says you will have challenges in your life, but it also says that if you rely on him, he will get you through those challenges. He will help you.” What powerful words from a young adult about to embark on the rest of her life.

I asked if she had any advice for future seniors, and that huge smile reappeared.

“Oh, goodness,” she said, then emphasizing, “Do Not Procrastinate; get your stuff done early.” She continued on: “Take one breath at a time, and ask for help, because you will never get any help if you never ask.” She smiled that big smile again.

Keianna is one of those young ladies that has had such an impactful effect on my life and other staff members here at LR. She has taught me to ask the questions that are on your mind to ask a young person. You see, four years ago, sitting in ISS (In School Suspension), I asked a simple question: “Tell me about yourself.” And a young lady told me stuff about her life that could be a plot in a book or movie. We have been friends ever since.

I am glad to call Keianna not only a student, but a friend. She is filled with joy and hope, and it spills out onto those around her. I cannot wait to one day visit her farm and sit back and enjoy everything she has overcome. I am so proud of you, girl.

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