When Kate Holland isn’t navigating the challenges of high school, you might catch her scaling some of the tallest mountains in the country.

Luckily, she’s good at both. Holland, a 2017 Akron Beacon Journal Star Student, ranks fourth in her class out of 263 students, all the while taking a course load filled with AP classes.

The 18-year-old’s list of achievements extends far beyond the classroom, though. Among one of her proudest was in 2016, when she climbed to the top of Mount Elbert in Colorado, which has the second-highest summit in the contiguous U.S.

“No experience is more humbling than feeling the grueling pain of each step, hearing your breaths, experiencing the pulsating beat of your heart as you ascend into the clouds, nearing 14,439 feet,” Holland wrote in her Star Student application. “You see the life flourish and then fade into the most perseverant organisms who dare to climb the heights to see the view from above.”

Holland said in the eight-hour hike to the top, she and her family encountered just a handful of others along the way.

“When you pass someone, it’s like your friend,” Holland said. “You’re enduring this horrible thing with the same goal: to see the world.”

Holland’s days are packed with activities from the scholastic to global scale. She’s an active member of the Spanish National Honor Society, National Honor Society, Key Club, the track team and student government.

For the past two years, Holland has also volunteered with the Liberty in North Korea club at her school, which raises money for refugees from the country.

“I think joining that club has really helped me to find empathy for people who don’t have a lot,” Holland said.

Holland considers pole-vaulting for the varsity team one of her greatest accomplishments. It’s a sport she picked up on a whim when she saw people “flying through the air” her freshman year and put it on her bucket list. She’s since reached a personal record of 9 feet, 6 inches.

Sarah Bodnar, the principal of Copley High School, said one of Holland’s teachers described her as “one of the finest students” they’d ever had at the school.

“Because of her involvement, qualities such as respect, honesty and integrity are all part of her mental, spiritual and emotional nature,” Bodnar said.

Holland eventually wants to become a dermatologist and work for Doctors Without Borders, a group of doctors who deliver emergency medical aid around the world, to “truly help and understand people of different cultures,” Holland said.

“It just seems like there’s so many places we kind of neglect. I’ve become very focused on Syria. I think that area of world is incredibly fascinating,” Holland said. “If I could do anything to help those people, that would be success in my life.”

Part of Holland’s motivation comes from her own struggle with eczema. She hopes to eventually develop a cure for the skin condition —a cure she’s been working on since childhood. Holland said when she was little, she would sneak down to her kitchen and experiment with household items, like olive oil or honey, to see if anything would soothe the painful condition.

“I was kind of feisty and thought I could come up with a cure,” Holland said with a laugh.

Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com.