by Kelly Farrell
The Paducah Sun
October 14, 2019
Used with permission.
Kate Criner doesn't know exactly what the future holds career-wise, but she sees herself helping people, whatever path she takes.
"I don't know what city I'll be in, maybe Paducah, maybe somewhere halfway across the world, but I want to be plugged in and helping people in whatever community I may be in," she said.
The 18-year-old Paducah Tilghman High School senior wanted to be a ballerina-actor-psychologist at age 7 and stayed with psychology until switching gears to neuroscience, due to a love for chemistry and biology.
The brain fascinates her.
"I think that going into neuroscience, you can see just how a small difference in how your brain reacts versus someone else's can drastically change the outcomes of your life," she said. "And it's what makes us all different, but also all the same."
Mental health is another topic of importance to Criner, who wrote a Kentucky Youth Empowerment Systems grant last year to create a youth mental health initiative -- Loqui, or Latin for "to speak." It seeks to offer an environment to "share struggles" and build a support network, Criner said.
"It's basically mental health for teenagers, led by teenagers," she said. "We are aiming to remove the power dynamic that's found in traditional therapy that really makes teens not want to go. So, this way, it's just starting a conversation. It's less scary. … It's just been a wonderful way to get people talking and breaking the barriers and just taking on the stigma of mental health."
Criner, daughter of Janie and Andy Criner of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.