VESTABURG — As a child, Kyare Betzing found difficulty in reading, to the point that in her final year of elementary school, she still struggled to put together basic sentences.
“I didn’t know how to read until I was in fifth grade,” the Vestaburg High School senior recalled. “Learning has always been hard for me. I wanted to Achieve it. I knew that I could … it was just about the work that I had to put in for it.”
No matter how hard she tried, the struggles continued. Her reading level remained low until a teacher helped her find a book, “The Precious Stones,” that Kyare was able to connect with.
“I really loved it. I loved it so much, that it got me into reading,” she said. “It’s not that people don’t like to read, it’s that they haven’t found their story yet.”
So Kyare read and read and continued to improve. Her new passion sparked a fire of enthusiasm that kept her going.
“It was a long journey to getting where I could read it fluently,” she said. “But you have to have the determination, motivation, and the ability to get knocked down and still stand back up, to get to the goals that you want to get to.”
Seven years later, the 18-year-old is graduating as valedictorian at the top of her class with a GPA of 3.98.
“I knew what I wanted, I planned how to get it, and I’ve finally done it,” she said. “And it’s quite the relief, with some excitement.”
Upon entering high school, the enthusiasm discovered in one book continued to spread, as Kyare became a member of the quiz bowl and robotics teams, joined the student council, Yellow Ribbon and Cool to be Kind anti-bullying clubs, and made it as a member of the National Honor Society.
Overcoming her initial obstacle and branching out through to many extra-curricular activities, has come as no surprise to science teacher Amanda Slezak.
“She’s always willing to help, she’s a good student,” Slezak said. “If there’s any need in Vestaburg, she tries to find a way to fix the need. She’ll give anything that she has.”
But perhaps the biggest surprise to Kyare’s friends and family came in the form of taking a serious leap into adulthood this past December: Getting married.
Since middle school, Kyare had known and grown close to Jakob. The pair had planned to wed this upcoming August, but sudden life-changing news in November altered those plans.
After completing his training in the Coast Guard, Jakob was assigned a deployment to Guam — the U.S. territory located in the western Pacific Ocean — for the next three years.
“We never in a million years thought his assignment would be so far away,” Kyare said.
But she wasn’t about to let another obstacle block her path.
So upon marrying each other in December at Virginia Beach, Jakob left for Guam in February. On June 12, just one week after graduating from high school, Kyare will join her husband — more than 7,400 miles and 14 time zones away from home.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “The thing that makes me happiest in the world is helping and seeing what you can do to either change other people’s perspectives or do something to improve the world. We’re only here for so long. If you don’t improve it, there’s no lasting effect.”
Kyare will be attending Columbia Southern University through online classes, and as she already has 29 college credits through dual enrollment, she plans to receive her bachelor’s degree in business administration and human resources within two years.
Once Jakob finished his three-year deployment in Guam, Kyare would then like to pursue an associate’s degree in technology and robotics in the U.S. with a goal to one day create innovative ideas in renewable energy.
While Kyare’s nontraditional path to adulthood has left some peers questioning her decisions, she says she wouldn’t change a thing about how her life is unwinding.
“I’m happy with the choices I made,” she said. “If I’m happy with it, and Jakob’s happy with it, then I’m OK. I’m OK with whatever makes us smile. As long as you’re not hurting anyone else, you should do the things you love.”
On a lighter note, Kyare said one activity she took up this year ended up being more of a surprise then Jakob’s deployment or their marriage — joining the softball team.
“Our second practice, one of the girls on my team threw the ball and it hit the bottom of the glove and hit my nose,” she recalled. “There was blood everywhere. I was crying, but not because of the pain. I just couldn’t stop my eyes from watering.”
The following day, Kyare’s teammates fully expected her to quit, but she returned with her chin held high.
“I guess I decided that I disliked softball less than I disliked quitting,” she said. “Through that, through our wedding, I have to thank my family and friends. Throughout the whole thing, there are different people who have helped me through so many different situations.”
As Kyare will soon leave Slezak’s classroom for the final time, Slezak says she’s confident Kyare will continue to succeed.
“She’s been more adult-like than student-like for a long time,” Slezak said. “Her marriage, It wasn’t an immature decision at all. She’s going to complete college online. Otherwise, she would have likely received full scholarships here in Michigan. She has worked very to achieve everything, and that’s because she always puts in the extra effort.”