Recent Dora High graduate faced life's challenges head-on

'Chaia has grit'

By RICK WATSON
Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 5/29/20

Chaia King of Sipsey is Dora High School’s female Outstanding Senior for 2020. There were so many outstanding students to choose from, according to King. But a major factor, according to Dora …

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Recent Dora High graduate faced life's challenges head-on

'Chaia has grit'

Posted

Chaia King of Sipsey is Dora High School’s female Outstanding Senior for 2020. There were so many outstanding students to choose from, according to King. But a major factor, according to Dora principal Paige Abner, was that “Chaia has grit.

When it comes to life challenges, King faced one early in life. It was the year she would be entering the eighth grade. King was at home when her hair caught on fire, and she was severely burned on her face and upper body.

“At the time, I remember thinking the dumbest things like, how am I going to look, and who is going to want to marry me,” she remembered. “These were crazy things that should have been of no concern at the time.” 

After King’s injuries, she credits her mother, Tonya Kiser, who is also a graduate of Dora High, with helping her navigate life. “She told me that I was beautiful no matter what and that I would never be happy until I was happy with myself,” King said.

While the two didn’t see eye to eye at first, according to King, Dora principal Paige Abner became a major influence in her life. “I was very immature,” she said.

At the beginning of this school year, King became an office aide and worked with Abner daily. “We got really close this year,” she said. “After I got to know her, I just love her so much.”

“I’m so proud of Chaia because of her maturity,” Abner said. “She has allowed an unfortunate event in her life shape her into the young woman she is today— and I have been fortunate enough to have a front-row seat!” Her plans to “pay it forward” are grounded in giving hope to others, according to Abner. “I cannot wait to see what she does with her life as she influences the lives of other young people,” she said.

King has known the people she now goes to school with since kindergarten. These fellow students knew her before the accident and saw what she went through afterward. King thinks that maybe it made some of those students feel that they could overcome challenges too. “I’m glad that my accident did not define me,” she said. 

King’s favorite classes in school were English and Anatomy. Her least favorite was History.

One of the activities that King enjoyed in school was in the Future Business Leaders of America. Outside school, King is a member of several burn survivor groups. The groups communicate and encourage each other. Members also provide support for people who were burned recently. “We let them know that they will be OK,” she said.

She is also a member of the World Youth Alliance, which is an organization that connects with young people around the world to build a culture that supports and nurtures the dignity of the person. 

How has COVID-19 affected her? “All the fun things are at the end of the year, and we were all looking forward to this time,” she said. “We thought we would only be out an extra week. We didn’t see this coming,” she said.

King is undecided about her path after high school. She has considered becoming a dental hygienist or possibly working towards becoming a dermatologist. King laughed as she said, “Right now, I’m all over the place.”

King is moving to Florida at the end of May, and she’s considering Florida State or a community college near Panama City.

How would she like to be remembered? “I’d like to be remembered as that girl who started out rough but found her way,” she said.