“If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. If you want to experience the element, then get out of the vehicle.”
This is the email signature of Kayla De Priest, a 28-year-old non-traditional student who jumps out of planes for fun.
De Priest, a full-time student at UW-Whitewater, recently received her skydiving A-license.
From May to October, De Priest can be seen at the drop-zone packing parachutes and jumping out of planes. During the school year, you can find
De Priest living in her dorm room in the Wells Towers.
Prior to attending college, De Priest worked several jobs. After being involved in an accident where she totaled her car, De Priest’s life changed dramatically.
“I had to look at the incident as a whole and be grateful that no one, including me, got hurt,” De Priest said. “I was able to walk away.”
The accident, a result of texting while driving, prompted De Priest to make a life-changing decision.
“I wanted to make sure I surrounded myself with good people and real friends,” De Priest said. “Do not put yourself in a situation where outcomes can be unpredictable; be accountable for yourself and never text while driving.”
Focusing on school has become a priority for De Priest. She works on campus as part of the event crew staff, participated in “Club U-dub-dub,” is a member of Circle-K International, the Student Foundation, and the Adult Student Connections Organizations.
De Priest had applied and registered for college four times before she actually followed through.
“I always knew I would eventually make it to higher education, I just wasn’t sure when,” De Priest said. “I finally feel like I belong somewhere.”
De Priest faced a huge disappointment when all of her credits were not able to transfer from another school in the UW system.
As a student, De Priest is considered to be an “unconventional” non-traditional student because she lives in the dorms, is actively involved in campus organizations and engages in unique hobbies.
Lecturer Gary Myers said he has witnessed De Priest’s adventurous spirit in the classroom.
“She has a lot of self-confidence and understanding of her own abilities and weaknesses,” Myers said. “She knows her limitations; that’s refreshing too.”
De Priest registered to participate in a Tough Mudder event, which has forced her to take some sacrifices. Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed to test strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.
“I hate running, but I am always looking for a new challenge,” De Priest said. “This will make me get outside of my comfort zone.”
Myers said he feels De Priest has the skills to meet the qualifications of a public relations job one day.
De Priest expects to graduate in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.