FREEPORT — Kersti Bayne, a senior at Freeport High School, spent last July working at an orphanage for newborns in Senegal.
“I was able to give the newborns love, to hold them, and feed them and put them down for naps,” she said, delighted that she received a scholarship for her experience in a program sponsored by Portland-based CIEE, a world leader in international education and exchange.
While in Senegal, she lived in a house with 11 other people. “It was great to see how members of the family supported each other,” Bayne said.
Given her entrepreneurial spirit and service ethos, it’s no surprise that Bayne opted to spend a month in Africa. She’s the kind of person who spends every day serving others, while testing herself and pursuing her goals.
Bayne serves as president of her high school chapter of Jobs for Maine Graduates, a statewide nonprofit that works with Maine’s public schools to help students reach their fullest potential. In that capacity, she oversees fundraising efforts, as well as meeting with students in the middle school. Funds raised go to organizations that serve youth, such the Freeport Community Center.
As to her leadership philosophy, she said, “You have to know when to step back and when to take control.”
Bayne also volunteers for Camp Sunshine, an organization that provides support, hope, and joy to children with life-threatening illnesses; she volunteers for Seeds of Independence, which helps at-risk youth get on the right path; she works as a sales clerk at American Eagle Outfitters in Freeport, and she works as a nanny.
Bayne is also enrolled as a part-time student at Southern Maine Community College, even as a senior at Freeport High School.
“I’m getting my general requirements out of the way so I can be accepted into the radiation therapy program in 2015,” she said. A career in radiation therapy will fulfill Bayne’s desire to serve others – in this case cancer patients – while earning a good living.
History explains, in large part, her extraordinary maturity and focus. She moved to Maine four years ago from Oregon, after her parents were divorced. She lives in a small, two-bedroom house with her mother and younger sister.
Bayne is very close to her mother, a phlebotomist at Maine Medical Center.
“I tell her everything. She’s my best friend,” Bayne said. “We even got tattoos together for my 18th birthday, with hearts that had the word ‘Love’ inside.”
When asked why she’s so driven at an early age, Bayne explained, “I didn’t have control of my life when my parents got divorced, and we had a lot of financial struggles. I want to make good decisions, so that I can be in control of my life and be financially secure.”
Bayne plans to stay in Maine after completing her radiation therapy education. “Maine has a small-town homey feel,” she said, “and three of my uncles live here.”
With grit and gumption, Bayne models good lessons, while making a mark on the world.
Kersti Bayne of Freeport with one of her young wards at an orphanage in Senegal last July.