Kira Smiley is only 17 years old, but she's already got a bucket list going.
She wants to cross-country ski all the way from Mount Bachelor down to her home in Bend this spring. She wants to climb each Sisters peak this summer. She wants to teach herself Japanese and learn how to play the flute on her own.
Ask anyone who knows Kira, and they'll tell you: The teenager is always creating new challenges for herself.
Kira is a Bend High School senior who maintains a soaring 4.3 GPA while also being a leader in the school's business club, a dedicated language student and a talented nordic skier.
In her free time, she teaches herself whatever she can, from snowboarding to Japanese.
“Honestly, my biggest fear is that I have some crazy talent that I haven't discovered yet and maybe I won't ever discover it,” Kira said. “So I always want to try everything, If I see an opportunity to try something new, I will.”
Last year, in an effort to shake things up a little bit, she joined the school's business club, DECA, even though she had little experience in marketing or business. Her hard work paid off. At the state competition last year, Kira took second place in an impromptu business roleplaying category in which she had to come up with a hypothetical marketing plan for a company in only 10 minutes.
Her success at state earned her a ticket to nationals last spring in Salt Lake City. This year, Kira is competition director for her chapter of DECA, coaching new members on how to compete.
Competition is something that comes naturally to Kira. She's on the school's varsity nordic ski team and this summer, she completed an intensive training program with the Bend Endurance Academy to prepare her for the upcoming season. She's hoping to qualify for junior nationals, and is attending competitions all over the West this ski season.
“I like seeing all the effort that I put into it, and then seeing the results of that effort,” Kira said. “I just love it.”
On the academic side of the spectrum, Kira is a hardworking student who, according to her teachers, doesn't ever take the easy road when it comes to her education.
“She's always pushing to challenge herself and do something different,” Diane Brown, Kira's French teacher, said. “She's wants to be innovative rather than just taking the easy, predictable course.”
French is Kira's third language. In addition to speaking English, she also speaks Finnish. Her mother was born in Finland, and taught Kira the language along with a bit of French when Kira was young. Kira says her Finnish heritage has had a big impact on her outlook.
“My heritage has made me a lot more open-minded to other cultures,” Kira said. “I think it's definitely worth it to learn another language and I'm grateful that I've been able to. It's given me a whole other perspective.”
Next year, Kira plans to continue her language pursuits at Stanford University, where she was recently accepted. She has yet to choose a career path, but she's interested in psychology or international relations.
“She's definitely one of those students who you're anxious to see what kind of things she's going to do in life,” Brown said. “I wouldn't be surprised to read about her one day in some high-powered magazine.”
Age: 17, a senior at Bend High School
Favorite Movie: “Hotel Rwanda”
Favorite TV Show: “Psych,” “Parks and Recreation”
Favorite Book: “Flowers for Algernon,” by Daniel Keyes
Favorite Band: Imagine Dragons
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Mail: P.O. Box 6020, Bend, OR 97708
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