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. . Senior Spotlight: Smile makes Kyllo a familiar face

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By Elisa Hatlevig
Contributing Writer
Friday, March 9, 2001

Kerry Kyllo's close friends and podmates describe her in the most flattering terms. "An amazing and beautiful person."

A native of Cottage Grove, Wis., Kyllo is easily recognizable by her constant smile, charming laugh and caring nature. She nurtures friends with her compassion and amazes others with her huge heart. But the most amazing part of Kyllo is her own unawareness of all that she offers her friends and family.

Guided by her grandfather's example, whom she believes has been the most influential person in her life, Kyllo notes that he "reminds her of what's important." And what's important to Kyllo is the people in her life, especially her family.

Kyllo's younger sister, Kathleen, is a sophomore in high school. Her younger brother, Mike, is experiencing his first year at St. Olaf. A smile crossed her face when asked about her brother but she quickly shook her head as she claimed, "No, I don't want to embarrass him."

When describing how interesting it has been to watch her brother go through the trials and tribulations of his first year, she said, "I feel as though I am reliving my first year through him. It's great to have a different perspective on it and see how much I've grown since then."

On her journey from her first year to her senior year, Kyllo has no doubt that the people she has met have been the best part. "They all have enriched my experience [at St. Olaf]. I love being able to spend a day with them." From people she considers close friends to acquaintances she has only met once, Kyllo finds constant astonishment in "how incredibly amazing they are." As she proudly reports the achievements of her friends and how they touch her life everyday, she discredits her own accomplishments stating, "nothing I've done [is amazing]."

This telling statement shows the modesty of Kyllo. If you have not met her, ask her friends or just mention her name to an acquaintance and you will hear nothing but good things. Most sum it up saying, "She's the sweetest girl!" Of course, Kyllo's view of herself is much more modest, hoping that others see her as "laidback most of the time, friendly, and warm."

Kyllo has many fantastic accomplishments to go along with her shining personality. A member of the women's soccer team, Kyllo feels that it has been one of her most memorable college experiences. "Just being part of a team has been great," she said.

Last year Kyllo spent her first semester in Lancaster. "The best and worst part about Lancaster was being brought out of my comfort zone. It was great to branch and be on my own, but I got really homesick." She admits that the semester got easier as she was able to experience England with many wonderful friends, but in the end it was nice to be back.

This semester, Kyllo is once again out of her comfort zone, student teaching at Washburn High School in Minneapolis, entering the real world a little sooner than the rest of us. Teaching tenth grade world history, she describes her students as the "most complex creatures [I've] ever met." As she struggles to wake up every morning around 5:30, Kyllo is kept awake by what she calls her "passion, hobby and obsession­coffee." Even with the early mornings and long days, Kyllo is still able to find the intrigue in the "beauty and confusion of these stimulating kids."

Like all of us, Kyllo is still striving to find the perfect balance in her life and admits this is a continuous obstacle for her in college.

Nevertheless, Kyllo remains optimistic and promises herself she'll "figure it out." Next year, she looks to be teaching around Minneapolis/St. Paul, or subbing around the area if she can't find permanent placement. She's also thinking of going on to graduate school in the future and may try living in different places in the next couple of years, but she knows she'll come back to the Midwest. If we're lucky, she'll be back to teach our children and spread the kindness and compassion with which she has graced the St. Olaf campus.

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