Most parents discover their children when they first feel a kick in a mother’s stomach; Kaila Gilbert’s parents found out by a phone call at 11:30 at night when they finally had a match for adoption. Kaila’s life truly began then. Brought up from a long line of preachers, she never doubted the ultimate power of God in her life. Naturally inquisitive, she excelled at puzzles and competitions at a young age, which would later help her out scholastically. As she grew up, she discovered global problems that would lead her to a life dedicated to helping others. Her favorite quote comes from an orphan in Jane Eyre: “We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world.”

Voted “Most Diverse Playlist” in class, Kaila listens to everything from baroque music to inspirational rap. She has always had an open mind and a willingness to explore different situations. Seen stumbling around with classics like An American Tragedy at the age of 13, she cherished diversity although she composed 33.3% of the African-American population at her magnet school. She was introduced to the violin before attending public school. Falling in love with music, she began nursing her love for the arts. Receiving lessons in violin, piano, mandolin, and guitar by her youth minister and Nikki Owens, who saw her potential, she rose to the post of concertmaster of the Murfreesboro Youth Orchestra. As a devout believer in the arts, she is an actress and choreographer in the drama program and a volunteer music teacher at local schools. She also founded the Weary Blues Society, a community for writers at her school.

Kaila knows that to improve the world’s problems, she must prepare herself and others. Valedictorian and National Achievement Scholar, Kaila is the founder and captain of a 1st place linguistics team and recognized in the fields of science, music, marketing, and writing at the state level. She has taken every AP course her school offers and exhausted the list of mathematics courses. She is senior class president while holding prominent offices in nine clubs. She strongly plays a part in community service, and is ambassador with the Youth Leadership program. She’s been twice awarded the Track and Field Hope Award for optimism and athletic excellence.

While at Governor’s School for the Humanities, she developed Crohn’s disease. She swallowed 11 pills a day and lost 10 lbs rapidly. The medication was a large financial burden on a family struggling greatly in a rough economy. Nevertheless, they and she fought her weariness.

Kaila is not blinded to her background and is passionate about giving back. She interned at a local hospital. A counselor for the Inner-City Ministry, she used wisdom from adults to instill moral values in other youth. Adopted herself, she understands the effects of circumstance and will never forget her own good fortune. She will attend Vanderbilt University where she plans to study either law or gastroenterology to help lighten the burdens of the world.

Kaila J. Gilbert

Hometown – La Vergne, TN
Undergrad – Vanderbilt University, BS, Human and Organizational Development
Graduate School – Carnegie Mellon University – Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, 2020, MS
Major/Academic Interest – Senior Consultant | Cognitive & Analytics, IBM