Overcoming Obstacles with Karlie Lefor

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Allie Sigl

Karlie Lefor uses her planner to manage stress.

Allie Sigl

With the first quarter ending, stress and anxiety have skyrocketed as students try to balance both academics and social life. Senior, Karlie Lefor, especially feels pressure from her rigorous course load and responsibilities.

Taking five Advanced Placement classes and three dual-enrollment, Lefor is both the Student Government Association secretary and an officer for the Spanish National Honor Society.

“I wake up at 5 am to work out before school and do homework, essentially from the time I get home until 10 or 11 pm,” Lefor said.

Despite her busy schedule, Lefor still manages to get everything done and balance her commitments.

“I use my calendar religiously,” she explained. “I write down what work for which classes I am going to do every day and make sure I finish them well before the due date if I can.”

Although this sometimes means sacrificing personal activities, Lefor still makes time to relax and have fun with her friends. “My schedule does not slow [down] long enough to give me true free time, but I relax by watching movies or hanging out with a friend or two,” Lefor said.

If she does have extra time, Lefor’s favorite activities include reading in the pool and painting.

On top of her academic responsibilities, Lefor also struggles with migraines, resulting in multiple doctor appointments.

“Migraines stress me out the most as it is a neurological disorder, which nobody realizes, so it feels lonely and impossible to deal with,” Lefor admitted.

During eLearning especially, Lefor’s migraines increased, preventing her from doing work for days at a time.

To help combat her migraines, Lefor practices biofeedback training, which involves being connected by electrodes to a machine that provides feedback in real-time. The biofeedback process, explained Lefor, gives her manual control of her “temperature, sweat gland activity, heart rate, and muscle tension, as opposed to these measures being mostly automatic features of the nervous system.” Biofeedback can also be used to reduce anxiety, making it an integral part of Lefor’s routine.

In addition, Lefor uses other combative strategies, such as strictly controlling her diet, to prevent migraines.

“Meats with added preservatives, caffeine, certain fruits such as raspberries or pomegranates, and many other foods contribute to migraines more than one would think,” Lefor revealed. “I have learned over the years, and through many failures, that avoiding combinations are key… and that preventing migraines is all about balance and keen awareness.”

Lefor continues to apply her experiences with migraines to her future and academic career. In her Junior Year, Lefor wrote a research paper for AP Seminar featuring migraines and investigating potential solutions surrounding them. Although Lefor originally had doubts about the project’s feasibility, she remained confident in her choice, eventually leading her to receive the AP Capstone Diamond Award from her teachers, Holly Kimble and Chip Martin.

“I am so appreciative that Mrs. Martin believed in me as much as she did,” Lefor said. “The moment they announced my name, I knew I chose the perfect topic. I felt so fulfilled.”

After high school, Lefor plans to complete her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in neuroscience at either the University of Florida or Miami, then plans to complete her medical school residency.

“I have not yet decided between neurosurgery or neurobiological research, but my heart undoubtedly lies in the brain,” Lefor explained. More importantly, Lefor’s biggest goal is to make a positive impact on others, whether through a medical discovery or by simply raising a family of compassionate people.

Despite the unpredictability of this year, Lefor is still hopeful for the future. “There has been a lot of changes in almost every aspect of my life,” Lefor said. “The most difficult to accept is that our senior year is the most different than any other senior year will ever be.”

With events such as Grad Bash, pep rallies, STEM fair, and others up on the brink of cancellation, Lefor is worried she will not be able to experience as many memories with friends before going to university.

When looking back on the past four years, if Lefor could leave any advice that she learned, it would be to remember that “the only person whose opinion should affect you is you. The goal should not be to impress others but to be able to confidently say you are content with who you are,” Lefor explained.

The only person whose opinion should affect you is you. The goal should not be to impress others but to be able to confidently say you are content with who you are,”

— Karlie Lefor

“You have the power to dictate almost everything you do. It is about taking advantage of this and using these four years to maximize growth.”