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Washington Voices

Medical Lake’s Keister learns to cope with struggles

Thu., May 24, 2012

Brooke Keister of Medical Lake High School is not sure why she was selected for this year’s senior profile. She couldn’t think of any titles she’s received and said that she isn’t really involved in extracurricular activities. It didn’t take long to figure out that she’s a modest hard worker who plows through life’s challenges. She works three part-time jobs, volunteers at her church and is from a big family. Her parents, Danielle and Christopher Keister, have six children; Brooke is the oldest.

“Brooke has a babysitting job four days a week after school, a housecleaning job twice a month and an internship job at Gonzaga University English Department. She saves nearly every dime,” Danielle Keister said. The internship at Gonzaga involves researching creative writing opportunities in the area. Brooke Keister is saving her earnings for a laptop and other college expenses.

Keister hasn’t always been a go-getter.

“When I was about 13, I started having bad problems with anxiety and depression. There was a time when I missed almost the entire year of school because I didn’t want to leave my house. I had to learn to cope,” she said. “My parents helped me through it. I realized that I can’t let it hold me back. I had to get an education.”

“It was a battle for her to go to school, or anywhere really,” her mother said. “We’ve also had some tough years with the economy. Brooke’s father lost his job two years ago, and we went through some rough times. He has one now, but Brooke had the attitude like, ‘Don’t worry about giving me money.’ She’s independent, kind-hearted and has done really well. It kind of amazes me.”

Being the oldest, she is the first kid in her family to go through a high school senior year, so it has been a little hectic. Seniors at Medical Lake are required to do community service and spend all year putting together a binder about their experiences; Keister did a job shadow in her brother’s first-grade classroom helping his teacher. She did well on the project and is now focused on graduation.

Although she may not be comfortable in the spotlight and may not have a collection of titles, Keister stands out among her graduating peers.

“Brooke will be the first-generation college student in her family,” said Medical Lake school counselor Scott Kerwien. “She and her family have gone through struggles that many in the community are also going through, with job losses and money being so tight. She deserves recognition, and we didn’t want her to float under the radar.”

Keister plans to study creative writing at Eastern Washington University.

“Writing poetry helps connect my feelings with my environment,” she said.

And she’s already a published poet: “Wise,” a poem she wrote “about how you can’t let things hold you back or you’ll miss everything that is good in life,” was published in the Medical Lake High School Yearbook.

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