Coralyn Cairns

Coralyn Cairns is a junior from Evans, Georgia and attends Lakeside High School. She is enrolled in the IB program and also enjoys many extracurricular activities. She is the president of the French National Honor Society, a junior officer of Science National Honor Society, and a member of organizations such as Science Olympiad, Science Bowl, and International Thespian Society. Coralyn also participates in the swim team and musical theater. Outside of school, she volunteers at a local domestic violence shelter and teaches swim lessons. She hopes to get her bachelor’s degree in a pre-medicine pathway and, someday, become a forensic pathologist. Coralyn has been honored by Constituting America twice now, and she is very grateful for this opportunity to educate other young people about the importance of civil civic conversations!

Watch Coralyn’s Winning PSA Below:

Our Interview With Coralyn

Was this the first time you entered the contest?
It is not the first time I entered the contest. I entered in my freshman year and won best high school song, and I also entered last year for the essay category. I think I am better at singing and throwing pies than writing essays, but who can blame me?!

How did you hear about the contest?
I first heard about the contest the summer before I started high school. My school had all the eighth graders sign up for a program that helped with career planning and scholarships, and I stumbled upon this one. It seemed like the perfect fit for my skill set, and I haven’t looked back since!

What inspired your work?
In my English class this year, we did presentations on advertising campaigns, and I wanted to research different PSAs. I found that the ones that stuck with me the most were the ones that had a comedic flare broken up by statistics that sent home the intended message. I highly recommend you watch PSAs like “Pizza Farm” and “What If Bears Killed One In Five People?” They are ridiculously hilarious but also very impactful.

What did you learn while creating your entry?
After writing the script, I knew I wanted the two characters to be me, but I had no idea how to clone myself in a video. It took a lot of trial and error, but I eventually got it right. I also learned a lot more about the state of political discussion in America. From a teenager’s perspective, it is hard to comprehend how disjointed the country is. Most of the civic conversations I experience are in my house where we all love and respect each other. But at school, most teenagers aren’t very invested in politics, so it is rare to hear conversations over politics, and especially not ones that get out of control. So in my research, it was definitely a shock to see the statistics and read the articles about the lack of civility in political conversation in America.

How do you plan to spread the word this year to your peers about the importance of the U.S Constitution?
Starting conversation about relevant topics of today while intertwining the importance of the Constitution is probably the best way to spread the word. Most of my classes are discussion based, which leaves a lot of room for student driven conversation.

How do your friends respond to history or talking about the Constitution?
My friends are very intellectually driven people, and so discussion about the Constitution is welcomed with open arms. Finding friends who support your interests and passions is so important to your growth as a student and citizen.

What do you love about U.S History and the forming of our government?
What I love about U.S. History is the fact that, even though I have been learning America’s history since I was in kindergarten, there are always new facets to discover; it is never boring. And you might not find that in other places. Our government has always protected our right to education. My history teacher never shies away from the truth of the matter, even if America was in the wrong. Whether the good, the bad, or the ugly, there is always something you can take and learn from.

Which U.S. historical site would you like to visit?
I would love to visit Ellis Island. Even though I don’t know the exact route my mom’s family took coming to America, I know they immigrated here from Czechoslovakia in the early 1900s. I can imagine them arriving in America at this historical place.

Which American historical figure is most influential/inspirational to you?
I really resonate with a lot of the First Ladies of America, but Eleanor Roosevelt has to be one of my favorites. She was President FDR’s right-hand woman after he contracted polio and became a worldwide sensation until her death in the 60s. Her career extended beyond her husband’s influence, and she always handled her roles with grace.

Who is your greatest role model?
My greatest role model is my mom. She has always been extremely supportive of all of my ventures, and I would not be the person I am today without her guidance. She has made a very blessed life for my siblings and I, despite not growing up with the same comforts and support.

What in your life are you most passionate about?
I am very passionate about a lot of things, a little bit of a jack of all trades. I love anatomy and really all the sciences. I also love learning about history, especially when I can tie it into my other interests. On top of that, I really like singing and musical theater. And above all of this, I greatly enjoy helping other people. I tutor students in the sciences at my school, pick up trash around my community, volunteer at a domestic violence shelter, teach swim lessons, and read at my church.

How do you spend your free time?
Unfortunately, I am a very busy young woman, so I don’t have a lot of free time. But when I do, I like spending time with my mom; we love getting lunch and going thrifting. I also really like sewing my own clothes. This year I recycled some of my old satin fabrics and made a rainbow homecoming dress! And I am currently learning how to play the guitar.

What are your plans for the future?
I would like to go on to get my bachelor’s in a pre-med pathway, and then continue to medical school with the hopes of one day becoming a forensic pathologist. I also love language and would like to minor in French or Spanish so that one day I could volunteer for Doctors Without Borders.

If you could do one super impactful thing to help people, what would it be?
I am a firm believer that everyone should learn how to swim. Every year people drown in the nearby lake because they don’t know how to swim, or they don’t know water safety. And that shouldn’t be the case. My county, even though we are a fairly developed community, does not have a public pool, which makes learning how to swim inaccessible for some people. In many states, water safety classes are required as part of the physical education curriculum, and I think that this should be the case in Georgia.

Why is the Constitution relevant today?
The Constitution is a very special document in that it is flexible, but also firm. In science terms, it’s like the cell membrane. The membrane is fluid and can change depending on cellular requirements, but it is also very specific in how it reacts with certain molecules. This relates to the Constitution because the Constitution has adapted with society. Even though America has changed more than the Founding Fathers could have ever guessed, the Constitution still works for the needs of America, precisely because it was drafted so delicately and intelligently. However, this fluid nature of the Constitution does not mean that it gives space for the government to take away our liberties and rights as citizens.

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