Kirsten Smith just graduated from Healdsburg High School and is looking forward to attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Press Democrat photo by Jeff Kan Lee

By PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

When Kirsten Smith goes to Cal Poly this fall to study business management, she’ll be one step further down the road of achieving her career goal: Becoming the head of a large company.
It’s a path the 2012 Healdsburg High School graduate started down years ago. Way back in third grade, she was a peer mediator, stepping in between kids who were fighting over schoolyard disputes.
By high school, she had honed her leadership skills to a fine point, serving on the student government all four years. As a senior, she was the student representative on the school board.
And it won’t stop there. Not hardly. Once Smith graduates from college, she’ll begin climbing the corporate ladder, not stopping until she reaches CEO, she said.
“I guess I am a little OCD about running things,” Smith, 17, confessed a few days before graduation. “Everything has to be perfectly organized.”
Smith was born and raised in Healdsburg. She splits time between living with her mother, Gisela Babb, and father, Andy Smith. Her older brother Eric, 20, is a Healdsburg firefighter.
In addition to being on the honor roll at school, Smith is an athlete, participating on the swim team for four years and running cross country as a senior. She’s a swim instructor at Parkpoint Health Club.
Her marathon-running mother inspired her interest in sports. She ran a half-marathon at age 12 and “fell in love with swimming” as a freshman.
“It changed my life,” Smith said. “Physically and mentally. I transitioned to eating right and got the job at the gym. I work out almost every day. And I do yoga now.”
Her parents — former Agilent workers — also inspired her in her career goal. They brought her to the office on take-your-child-to-work days. She recalls being impressed by the corporate structure but also the creativity and professionalism.
“I enjoyed that kind of environment,” Smith.
Smith has had a foot in the adult world for at least three years. She was the negotiator between students and administrators during a difficult transition to a new principal.
She brought student complaints to the administration and helped establish a dress code agreeable to all.
“Lots of kids complain, but few take the initiative to do something,” she said. “I like having my voice heard.”
Being student representative on the school board opened her eyes to other issues, such as budgeting for a large institution. She was part of a group supporting a Chinese student exchange program expected to begin this fall.
“We are such a sheltered community,” she said. “Now we’ll get 10 students from China.”
After a visit to Cal Poly, she said she knew she wanted to go there because San Luis Obispo reminded her of her hometown. She was accepted, which was a good thing because she didn’t apply to any other colleges.
“She’s definitely somebody who”s willing to work as hard as possible to achieve her goals,” said Travis Carranza, her off-season swim coach. “She’s a go-getter.”

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com.

NAME: Kirsten Smith
Age: 17
Birthplace: Healdsburg
Lives with: mother, Gisela Babb, and stepfather, Steve Babb; father, Andy Smith.
What’s in her iPod: She’s a Pandora user. Listens to country music stars Eric Church, Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean
Favorite hobby: Fitness
Dream job: To be CEO of a company that creates electronic equipment and helps the environment
Favorite TV show: “Pawn Stars”
Favorite food: Italian
Quote: YOLO . . . you only live once