Boots on the Ground
Robin Malich and Kayci Guiberson

When Kayci Guiberson walked across the stage to accept her diploma with the other Henderson Bay High School graduates over the weekend, there were the usual loud cheers and happy tears, but for this graduate it was an extra special celebration.

Kayci’s graduation day not only marked the rite of passage of completing high school, but also a celebration of overcoming adversity and challenges that are paving the path to a brighter future for this Gig Harbor grad.

But the thing that most inspires her fellow students and friends is her comeback story.  Kayci says she faced many challenges in her high school years, including bullying, bulimia, dependency and addiction issues. Her journey back is the story that gives other students hope.

Kayci is an inspiration to her peers at Henderson Bay High School.  This beautiful and bright young lady was the President of the Interact Club at the school, and a leader in spearheading community outreach projects including the Smile Box Project, Compassion Committee, and the annual Toy Drive for the Gig Harbor Fish Food Bank.  “I have always loved volunteering and giving back to people, it just warms my heart.”  Her love of helping others started several years ago with her involvement in the Tacoma Rescue Mission and the Rabbit Haven.

Despite being heralded as a “rock star” for her journey in overcoming obstacles, Kayci is extremely humble about her newfound notoriety, saying: “It is mind-blowing and challenging to realize that other kids look up to me, and I want to continue to be a pillar of hope for others who might have struggles like I had”.  She is mindful of all the people who stuck by her and helped her become the best version of herself, including her family, friends, counselors, and staff at HBHS.  “I am so thankful also for people like Robin Malich, Site Coordinator for Communities In Schools of Peninsula and Sam Miller, an Outreach Specialist for Comprehensive Life Resources.  They helped me find the resources that I needed and supported me every step of the way.”

Malich says she is so proud of Kayci and can’t wait to see what amazing things she will do in the future.  “Kayci has a beautiful heart and has the gift of compassion for others.  Her struggles have strengthened her resolve to help others.”

Kayci is excited for the next chapter of her life, which includes starting at Seattle Central College this Fall.  Her dream is to work in the social service arena, helping others overcome challenges that she herself has experienced.  “I hope to bring positive messaging to others and help them realize that they have much to offer the world, and not to give up on themselves.”  In addition to her college plans, Kayci is also hoping to become a mentor in schools, bringing to others her message of hope and perseverance.