Katelynn Gazda embraces life’s challenges head-on


Kate;ynn Gazda

Freshman Katelynn Gazda, second from right, performes a hip-hop routine with her out of school dance troupe

Kaitlyn Husak, Staff Writer

Every person is unique. That includes Katelynn Gazda. She has autism, a developmental disorder characterized by a difficulty in communication. However, Gazda refuses to let that define her.
Until this year, Gazda only told her story to close friends. According to Gazda, the Be-You-Ty Project gave her the courage to share her story.
“At the Be-You-Ty Project I felt more confident and comfortable talking about it, because it’s no big deal,” Gazda said.
She spent her time with her Be-You-Ty Project group along with her group leader Isabel Taylor, junior.
“I didn’t even know she had autism. Her personality was just amazing,” Taylor said.
When it was time for Gazda to share her story, she more
excited to do so.
“She shared a lot of her story, and really was invested in being involved and lifting up the other girls,” Taylor said.
Living with autism has caused Gazda to face various challenges throughout her life at school.
“I have a language delay, which is where I’m terrible at reading comprehension and my interactions [with others] are different,” Gazda said.
According to Gazda, the support of her family and friends helped her overcome the challenges within her life. She also faces negativity from other people, which is an issue she has the solution to.
“You feel negative for a while, but you take those bad people out of the way and move on to the nice people,” Gazda said.
Gazda has moved on to the nice people. She has surrounded herself with people who are just as kind as her.
“Katelynn is an extremely kind hearted person with nothing but good intentions. She is the epitome of sweet and can brighten up any room she goes into,” Rose Dissette, sophomore, said.
She does her best to always stay positive and finds joy through her hobbies. Her favorite one is dance.
“I really love dancing,” Gazda said. “I take hip-hop class. Dancing makes me happy, positive, and who I am.”
According to Gazda, she dreams about writing a book about her life with autism. For now, she is content with sharing her story with the people around her.
“At first everyone pretty much thinks people with autism are weird and different. They may have some differences, but they don’t define that person. I feel that people need to be more understanding, and everyone needs someone like Katelynn in their life,” Dissette said.
Gazda does not think any less of herself because she has autism, instead she chooses to embrace it.