By Samantha Quee | Asian Avenue magazine

Some children excel in sports, some in music, and some in academics. Kaleb Vardon, a 7th grade student at Creighton Middle School, is an all-arounder and does well in everything he tries.

Thirteen-year-old Kaleb holds the position of first chair violin in his school’s orchestra, he is a member of the youth team at the climbing gym, Earth Trek, he snowboards with his parents almost every weekend during the winter, and has also received the Presidential Award from former President Barack

Obama upon his graduation from 6th grade last year for his outstanding academic achievements.

We spoke with Kaleb, who is a Filipino-Burmese American, on how he juggles his studies and his many extracurricular activities and hobbies.

Kaleb says, “First of all, I make sure that I love the things I do. With the help of my mom and dad, they guide me in the way I should go. Also, if I do not juggle things properly, I do not get a chance to do the things I want to do. That’s why I have to make sure that I keep up with my studies and work hard.”

Indeed, the well-rounded and self-sufficient teenager has a packed but extremely fulfilling schedule. He practices rock climbing roughly eight hours each week, attends private lessons for violin, and goes snowboards each week, all on top of handling his first year in middle school.

When asked about his favorite hobby, Kaleb revealed that it is impossible to just settle on just one.
“Honestly, I can’t choose. It’s hard because each gives me a different outlet. Playing music helps me express myself. Rock climbing gives me mental and physical strength. Snowboarding lets me experiment test my limits. I am always evolving.”

While Kaleb excels in math, science, Spanish and music, he enjoys math and music the most. He says, “Math allows me to enjoy learning the rules, and then apply them in different ways. Music has different rules, which allow me to play freely. The two activities keep me balanced.”

Other than his rock climbing coaches, cousin Michael and good friend Brett, one of Kaleb’s other sources of inspiration is his mom, Rejill Vardon.

She says, “I rarely had to worry about his grades at all which is amazing. He wholeheartedly enjoys his classes, teachers, friends and coaches, which makes it really easy for him to keep his grades up, excel in his other activities and still have a social life. He loves what he does.”

Kaleb remains humble and enjoys hanging out with his friends, playing video games and watching television. His mom says, “Kaleb is very much like any teenager of his age, but his interests in non-traditional activities do give him a different perspective on life. Rock climbing, for instance, is very much an individual sport. The more he reaches, the stronger he gets. In life, he will learn that if he tries he can reach his goals.”

Despite excelling in his various interests, Kaleb feels that his future ambition is a hard one to decide. He has yet to choose a path that he wants to follow. For Rejill, she trusts that Kaleb will choose what makes him truly happy.

One thing is sure – the future is bright for this rising star.