RUPERT — Kalynn Cotten loves punk rock and reading up on serial killers. She’s published 13 books on crime and science fiction along with some children’s books. She plays guitar, piano, flute, piccolo and drums and performs in several bands. She’s also one of three salutatorians at her high school and has a 4.0 GPA.
She’s described by staff at Minico High School as quietly influential, and she’s one of 215 seniors who crossed the stage and collected their diplomas Thursday.
“She’s one of those students who would never think about tooting their own horn,” MHS counselor John Kontos said. “She’s humble, she would never think about saying ‘look at me.’”
She’s also known for getting along with everyone, said Jennifer Anderson, another counselor at the school.
“She has been very visible on student council and has been a good support person for other students.,” Anderson said.
Cotten said she tries to treat others fairly and not judge people by their appearance.
“I have often been misjudged because of the way I dress,” said Cotten, who likes to wear black clothing and boots. “When people find out that I’m a 4.0 student, they are often surprised. You can’t judge someone until you get to know them.”
Her advice to other students who feel they are unfairly judged?
“Ignore it,” she said. “You know what you’ve done, and that’s what matters.”
Kontos said Cotten was one of a core group of four or five students who sat in the same spot in the hallway every day to eat lunch and he will miss their positivity and banter.
“She knows who she is and her friends are of the same caliber,” he said.
Anderson said Cotten’s activities were never designed to draw attention to her.
“She has been a quiet force,” she said.
Teacher Catie Smith had Cotten in classes over a four-year span.
“When I needed something done I’d tell her what I needed and I knew it would be done and I didn’t have to check in with her,” Smith said. “There are not too many kids, or adults for that matter, that you can do that with.”
Cotten, she said, was also always in a good mood and has a good sense of humor.
She won the Congressional Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal Awards in the same year for academic achievement and community service.
Some of her service projects included a drive to benefit the animal shelter, a stuffed animal drive for the hospital and she grew a garden that she donated to the senior citizen’s center along with holding an art campaign for environmental awareness.
“I think the biggest thing you can do in your life is to help someone else,” she said.
Cotten will graduate with half of her associate degree completed and was offered four full scholarships.
She plans to complete her associate degree at the College of Southern Idaho before pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Boise State University, then she plans to get her master’s and doctorate’s degrees in microbiology at the University of Montana.
She intends to pursue a career in medical research at a hospital.
“I’ve had my life all planned out since the seventh grade,” she said.