For as long as she can remember, Kaitlyn Draper has believed people always make time for things most important to them.
The Carlisle County High School senior has kept this belief in the forefront of her mind, always striving to make the most of her time by pursuing her No. 1 goal -- helping others.
"My mom has always been a really compassionate person, so some of this comes from her," Draper said. "But I've always had this desire to help those around me. I don't want to just see people struggling and think I could have helped them. I want to know that I did."
As president of Fellowship of Christian Comets, vice president of her school's Future Business Leaders of America chapter, and captain of Carlisle County's varsity volleyball team, Draper said she has learned a lot about leadership and what's most important.
"The thing that I really like about Carlisle is that since it's such a small school, I'm able to connect with my teachers and classmates really well," Draper said.
Draper, the daughter of Barry and Rhonda Draper, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week. Each week in the online edition and Tuesday in the print edition, The Sun features a teen selected from nominees submitted by guidance counselors throughout the region.
Near the end of the school year, one of the students profiled will be named Teen of the Year and receive a $5,000 scholarship.
With education being another top priority, Draper has a 4.0 grade-point average, is a Governor's Scholar alumni, a Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Conference alumni and is in the top 10 of her graduating class. But she still makes time for other activities.
To afford an overseas mission trip to Ghana, Draper took on the responsibility of building her own business called Hope-Filled Headbands in 2017.
"I designed and created my own headbands and sold them at local events and online," she said. "I had the ability to learn how to effectively manage a business, including financial aspects and publicity."
Draper said the experience of managing her own business taught her about personal responsibility and time management.
"Not only was I running this business, but I was going to school, I was on the volleyball team, I was the president of several different clubs and I still had different extracurriculars," she said. "So time management was a really big deal."
Although she doesn't make as many headbands now that her mission trip to Africa is over, Draper said she still makes them occasionally, and has plans to pick the hobby back up again in college.
Draper is an active member of Beulah Baptist Church. She was a member of the church's Ghana mission team, is a Sunday School teacher, Vacation Bible School teacher, Kids Against Hunger volunteer and a Mission 615 volunteer.
"My church family is basically my family," she said. "I've learned how powerful a church family really can be. My morals are based on what I've learned there. So I take that and I spread it through my community and beyond those walls."
Draper's future plans include attending Murray State in the fall to pursue an education in biology and a career in optometry.
"I've always thought about going into the medical field, but it wasn't until this past summer while I was at GSP that I was given the opportunity to tour a library for the blind," Draper said. "I thought that was so cool."
When she returned home, she shadowed an optometrist at Eye Care Associates in Mayfield, and from then on, knew which path she wanted to take.
By EMILY SMITH firstname.lastname@example.org