Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The Difference Maker

When Kate Kilian speaks, you listen—if you can keep up, that is.

The 30-year-old chemistry teacher at West Palm Beach’s Oxbridge Academy talks at a dizzyingly rapid clip, each word racing against the next like horses at Churchill Downs. She answers questions like somebody who needs to be someplace, because she probably does: Her schedule would seem punishing if it weren’t so fulfilling.

On Tuesdays after school, she assists some of her students in meeting with lonely seniors in nursing homes; on Wednesdays, her students coach a science team for children at the local Boys & Girls Clubs; on Thursdays, she runs a tutoring program for kids at The Lord’s Place, the West Palm Beach homeless shelter, with about 20 of her students.

Then there’s her monthly visits to the Quantum House at St. Mary’s Medical Center, where she provides food and comfort to parents whose children are undergoing long-term medical treatment. Through it all, she also manages to moderate Oxbridge’s Science Club, assist the head coach of the girls’ soccer team and run her own book club.

“I’ve always believed that if you see a problem, you shouldn’t wait for somebody else to fix it,” she says. “It’s your responsibility to take care of it. And I enjoy doing it.”

Kilian’s volunteerism, modeled after her parents’ selfless, global work in the medical field, isn’t limited to Palm Beach County causes. She’s spent her past two summers, and two of the past three winter breaks, in Cambodia, where she teaches English to enthusiastic pupils in the genocide-torn nation. She discovered the country’s need when she backpacked through it three years ago.

To read the full story, pick up the May/June issue of Boca Raton magazine.

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