Photography by MK Seniors
Meet Kari. She is Beauty Revived.
Sometimes obstacles come from the outside and sometimes from within the self or family. Despite an early diagnosis of anxiety disorder and OCD, Kari Joy has become a light in her community. She excels in athletics, the arts, academics, and most especially, in service. As the older sister of a neurologically impaired, autistic brother, she works actively with special needs children and has developed a senior project in neuroscience – the field she hopes to make her life’s work.
Kari started her career as an athlete and showman at age four, leading the local baton group in competitions and parades. She moved to gymnastics where she excelled, winning state championships in two events. Currently, she teaches six classes per week, coaching pre-school children and those with special needs. Recently, she was invited to become an active member of the Northern Arizona University Gymnastics team. Growing up near the Grand Canyon has offered Kari opportunities for outdoor adventures as well, and she has embarked on eight Colorado River research trips with the non-profit, Grand Canyon Youth, enhancing her commitment to fitness and stewardship of the environment.
Theater and Forensics are also passions for this expressive young lady. As a child, she developed a Kid’s Beat segment for a weekly Internet program called FlagLive, editions of which can still be viewed on YouTube. She went on to star in school productions and actively participate in the youth productions of Theatrikos Community Theater. Starting out as a lowly stagehand, she progressed to stage manager, choreographer, and assistant director, and just this year, played the teenager in the main stage production of August: Osage County to great acclaim. She has earned the rank of Double Ruby in the National Forensic League for debate, student congress, and interpretation of literature. She currently serves as Speech Captain of the BASIS Speech and Debate team and President of the Drama Club.
When Kari develops an interest she pursues it to the hilt. Her outgoing, charismatic personality opens doors. After attending a lecture on the Holocaust, she engaged the presenter in conversation, resulting in her being accepted to work on a graduate project at the Martin Springer Institute at NAU. The results of their research into the experiences of the Jewish community of Flagstaff are due to be published in March 2017. Recently, she had occasion to meet a representative from the National Holocaust Museum in Washington who, in response to Kari’s heartfelt commitment to social justice, has arranged an internship in the Survivor Unit of that Museum for the month of March 2017. Kari is currently planning this exciting adventure, which will serve as her capstone project as a graduating senior at Flagstaff BASIS.
Currently, you can find Kari Joy pursuing another senior project, perched in front of an aquarium on her dresser, observing the activities of Aplysia Californica, a sea slug that offers insight into the way neurological disorders affect the human brain. It was no easy task acquiring this unique specimen, but as we can see, Kari sees obstacles as opportunities. She expects this research to be useful as she pursues a degree at Colorado State University’s pre-med program with an emphasis on Neurology and Psycholinguistics.
Although Kari is accomplished in many areas, it is her compassion and heart for service that makes her beauty shine. As a Silver Award Ambassador Girl Scout, she created a children’s center at Flagstaff’s Poore medical clinic for the uninsured, facilitating a donation program to stock, decorate and furnish an activity area and lending library. She has gone on to provide children’s activities at the annual fundraiser for the last four years. She is now using her gymnastic skills in pursuit of her Gold to implement a Buddy program which pairs special need children with their enabled peers. This will culminate in a showcase allowing them to demonstrate their skills to parents and the community at large. Kari undertook certification for childcare and provides low to no cost babysitting and nanny care for families in transition, undergoing divorce, and to low-income single moms. Additionally, she has been an organizer and coordinator of the Flagstaff’s annual Peace Day activities and participates actively in her church community as a lector, youth assistant, and in mission fundraisers.
Kari Joy is no stranger to struggle. Her parent’s divorce proved traumatic and left the family with financial problems. Stress due to a recent family crisis caused her to bungle two important AP exams, causing her GPA to fall below Honors College and some scholarship requirements she was counting on. But talent, strength of character, faith and compassion continue to serve her well. She doesn’t give up, but gets up, and creates new opportunities to grow as a person, achieve her goals, and give of herself to others.
About the Photographer
In 2006, Michelle graduated from Northern Arizona University with a B.A. in English – a degree she has never used. She worked in a corporate environment after graduation until she was laid-off in 2008. With no available jobs in sight, she took it as an opportunity to go back to school and take a few classes in subjects she didn’t get a chance to take at NAU but had always loved including…photography. A professor she had told said, “You’re really good at taking pictures of people. You should look into doing that more.” With that gentle nudge, she started taking pictures of people professionally shortly thereafter and haven’t looked back.
Michelle currently lives humbly amid the beautiful Arizona landscape with her hot husband, their gorgeous daughter and three dogs. At the core, Michelle is an artistic fashion addict with rock-n-roll taste and a huge love for the arts. She loves yoga, hiking with family, creative writing, working out and spending time with her adorable friends.