Rising Steamboat Springs High School senior Kayleigh Esswein was taken aback when asked the last time she was bored.
Sitting at her house in early June, on the eve of traveling to Mexico to teach English and learn more Spanish, the 17-year-old brunette’s expression turned from carefree smile to one of deep thought.
“Like, actually bored?,” Kayleigh asked. “Like with nothing to do?”
After a few moments, she determined it must have been during this past spring break on a beach in Mexico. She wasn’t necessarily bored, but it was one of the few times she wasn’t actually doing something. All she had was a good book and the beach.
Kayleigh, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropist of the Year for 2009, has a schedule that would stress most successful adults, let alone teens.
“But I’m a Type A personality,” Kayleigh said. “I love to make lists in the morning and then do everything.”
There’s no doubt Kayleigh does as much as she can. She’s gone on missionary trips to Zambia, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
For her upcoming senior project, she plans to return to the school in Zambia that she helped build and support.
“It was the best four weeks of my life,” she said about the first trip to Zambia. “I was thrilled every day. With the little kids, they’re so bright and lively.”
Kayleigh also is president of Rotary Interact Club at the high school, co-student body president, the presiding officer of the Honor Council and involved in the Culture Club, Link Crew, Youth Group and National Honor Society.
She also maintains a 4.0 grade-point average.
“She’s a very outdoors, loving person,” said Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. “At the heart of who Kayleigh is, is someone who really cares about other people.”
Kayleigh’s intent is to take a year and travel after high school before going to college to focus on international affairs and education.
“Because helping people isn’t really a major,” she said.