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West Valley City Journal

Cyprus High senior named Granite District’s ‘Absolutely Incredible Kid’

Jun 06, 2024 10:32AM ● By Peri Kinder

Kalia Gomez, a senior at Cyprus High, was named Granite District’s “Absolutely Incredible Kid” for overcoming obstacles during her high school career. (Photo courtesy of Granite School District)

It was a bittersweet moment for Kalia Gomez when she was named Granite District’s “Absolutely Incredible Kid.” On the one hand, she was presented with scholarship money, a laptop, gift cards and her first Minky Couture blanket. On the other hand, she had been through some tough challenges and faced profound loss.

The Granite Education Foundation, and other partners, present the “Absolutely Incredible Kid” award to a student in Granite District who overcomes obstacles and defies the odds to excel in school and their career path. Each high school in the district nominates two students. Kalia, a 17-year-old senior at Cyprus High, was given the award after demonstrating resilience and courage following the death of her mom in 2022.

“I feel like I didn’t do anything spectacular or anything different than what other people have to do,” she said. “I just had to keep surviving.”

Kalia’s school counselors and Granite administrators feel she doesn’t give herself enough credit for her accomplishments. GEF CEO Jadee Talbot said he admired every student nominated for the award but Kalia’s story stood out for her maturity, dedication to education and positive outlook.

“What a powerful thing for a kid that age to lose their mom and not have a family support system,” Talbot said. “She knows her situation isn’t ideal but she knows she doesn’t have to be defined by it. Not only did she finish high school but she’s putting herself in a position to have a successful life going forward.”

Kalia was living in Arizona when her mom died, and moved back to Utah to live with her sister. At 16, she became emancipated and has been living as an adult with a shared apartment, a dog and a car. She knows other kids her age don’t worry about things like bills and groceries but for her, it’s just something that has to be dealt with.

She said she missed out on a normal high school experience, especially when she started at Cyprus as a junior, without knowing other students. She didn’t have time to join extracurricular clubs but earned her medical assisting certification through the Granite Technical Institute and will pursue a career in the health care field as she attends the University of Utah this fall. 

“I was dealing with sadness and anxiety from my mom's passing,” she said. “I felt like OK, well, this isn’t the high school experience like they show in the movies. [At the university], I want to look into community service projects or clubs they have. I don’t really know what they have there yet, but I want to be a part of it.”

Through the generosity of sponsors like Foundation4Life, Granite Credit Union and VLCM, the “Absolutely Incredible Kid” award will help Kalia begin the next step on her path. She has been accepted into an externship with the Huntsman Cancer Institute where she can continue her study in the healthcare field. 

She knows other students struggle with problems that might seem impossible, but she encourages them to stay focused and know better days are ahead.

“You just have to push through it,” she said. “It sounds really cliché, but you just have to look toward what you want and what you want to be. And just know the situation you’re in currently isn’t going to last forever. There’s always more ahead.” λ