Texas Tech University

High Schooler Maps the World and her Future with TTU K‑12

(Part 1 of 2)

A young girl stands outdoors wearing a red Texas Tech shirt and smiles at the camera

Kana Walsh has excelled in academics and successfully pursued other interests while studying with TTU K-12.

A young girl stands outdoors wearing a red Texas Tech shirt and smiles at the camera

Kana Walsh has excelled in academics and successfully pursued other interests while studying with TTU K-12.

By Leslie Cranford, Section Manager

Not only is Kana Walsh changing the world, she's mapping it along the way, and she has encouraged hundreds of others to do the same.

Because of the flexibility of her courses through TTU K-12, Kana has been organizing mapathons around the country and the world. She has done so as Youth Outreach Coordinator at the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., a position she has held for the past three years. She also is a member of the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA.

"My job is to organize large-scale mapathons for youth around the world using the Missing Maps platforms," Kana explains. "Missing Maps is a humanitarian project of the American Red Cross that helps to map the parts of the world that are vulnerable to natural disasters, conflicts, and disease epidemics to create maps for first responders. The objective was to provide BSA Scouts, Sea Scouts, and Venturers around the world a way to positively contribute to the community and to fulfill community service requirements from the safety of their own homes."

Overall, she says this project was a great success. There were over 3,300 edits contributed for the mapathon and almost 2,300 of those edits came from her own state. Kana says it was fun to be able to collaborate with troops, crews, and ships around the world, and it showed her how broad scouting really is.

"The BSA Mapathon showed me that no matter what the challenges are with COVID-19, people who have a passion for things can accomplish almost anything. It also helped me prepare to do something bigger, like the Great Hawaii Mapathon."

Kana explained that in August, she was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the Great Hawaii Mapathon, hosted by the Hawaii Red Cross and open to volunteers across the state.

A young girl stands outdoors wearing a red Texas Tech shirt and smiles at the camera with red flowers in the background.

Kana Walsh

A young girl stands outdoors wearing a red Texas Tech shirt and smiles at the camera with red flowers in the background.

Kana Walsh

"It was such an amazing experience to be able to take part in the event," Kana said. "Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Although I was an experienced mapper, I was able to learn new facts about some places that we worked on around the world. However big or small, the volunteers made their contributions and they were greatly appreciated by our partners overseas."

As this was the first mapathon that had ever taken place through the Hawaii Red Cross, Kana says she feels very lucky to have been able to help jump-start this new event.

"What is interesting about mapping is that you get to go somewhere that you may have never been. The project that I was working on was in Indonesia. It was so amazing to be able to 'go' there and see what it looks like," she explained. "Before we started mapping, we were told about the impact that we were making by doing this project. That motivated me to map as much as I could over the two sessions that we had. In all, it was a wonderful experience. And, I hope that we can have more mapathons for the people of Hawaii in the future."

An award presented to Kana from the American Red Cross

Earlier this summer Kana received a service award from the American Red Cross Pacific Islands Chapter.

An award presented to Kana from the American Red Cross

Earlier this summer Kana received a service award from the American Red Cross Pacific Islands Chapter.

Because she schools through TTU K-12 at her own pace, she has more freedom to pursue her variety of interests.

"One of the benefits of TTU K-12 compared to regular school is that it is very flexible," she said. "The teachers are understanding, and I am able to go at a faster pace than I would normally at a regular school."

Completing schoolwork on her own schedule, and however interesting and exciting the mapathons have been for Kana, there is much more to this motivated young lady.

"I love doing sports, including skiing, basketball, soccer, sailing and volleyball. I also like to do art, primarily sketching, and dance, contemporary and hula," Kana said.

Her mapathon involvement has earned her media coverage and statewide recognition as well.

Look for more of Kana's story in the November issue of "Wherever You Are," to find out about her involvement in Hawaii's Day of the Girl proclamation, her participation in the Model United Nations competitions, and more of her thoughts on getting her education through TTU K‑12.

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