DURHAM: Durham student excels in school while caring for mom - FOX Carolina 21

Durham student excels in school while caring for mom

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Kayla Kinard's mother was hospitalized on her prom night, but her mother still pushed her to go to the dance. Kayla Kinard's mother was hospitalized on her prom night, but her mother still pushed her to go to the dance.
DURHAM, N.C. -

Six students received GlaxoSmithKline scholarships Tuesday, which go to people who have overcome adversity. Here is the story of one:

If you could see behind the glammed-up smile Kayla Kinard carried on prom night, you'd see the worry she carried with her then.

"It seemed like it was just sitting on my shoulders," she said.

The picture was snapped in a hospital where her mother was taken that day after her heart stopped and Kayla had to perform CPR -- all before her prom.

"I didn't want to go, but she kept telling me, 'Go,' " Kayla recalled.

Kayla, 19, is used to being pushed, but she's usually the one doing the pushing.

As a senior, she worked two jobs, served as senior class president and paid the household bills -- all while taking care of her mother, who struggles with a heart disease associated with Kayla's birth.

"Everything kept tumbling down. It was like her heart was deteriorating so fast my senior year. It's like, this is the time i need you most," Kayla said.

"I would just look at her and think there was no way that I could ever do that," said Tesca Kinard. "But she did. She was so motivated and so energetic to the point that it was like she was unstoppable."

Even when she missed so much school that she nearly had to go to court, Kayla managed to rise to second in her class at Southern High School.

"With me not going to school and missing days, kind of like, 'OK, I still have standards to uphold. I have people looking up to me,' " Kayla Kinard said. "Even when I wanted to quit, I couldn't because I had others looking up to me and I couldn't let them down."

Kayla gave two speeches at her graduation while her mother sat in a hospital, recovering from her heart transplant and watching on Skype. Tesca Kinard tears up even now when she talks about how her daughter was determined for her to hear the speech.

"At the end of my second speech," Kayla said, "I said, 'Mommy, I love you.' "

Kayla Kinard is now about to enter her second year at UNC Charlotte, where she is studying biology. And she is receiving recognition -- and a boost

GlaxoSmithKline's opportunity scholarship will give her nearly $9,000 to pay for two years of school.

"This scholarship, it takes a great load off of me," Kinard said. "I won't have to worry about paying back as much anyway. But, it means so much."

"She deserves it after everything that she's been through within the last year," Tesca Kinard said.

It will help pay for her education -- but she has already learned something far more important.

"Just love one another because you never really know what tomorrow holds," Kayla said.

It's a message straight from one heart to another.

"The relationship that she and I have, it's just, words can't even explain," her mother said.

Kayla has been inspired by the people who helped her mother and hopes to go into the medical field.

The scholarship she received Tuesday will go a long way in helping her achieve that.

The scholarship was established in 1988 through a GSK endowment that is currently valued at more than $1 million.

Recipients receive up to $20,000 for tuition, books and other educational expenses.

"I'm feeling really thankful today," Kayla Kinard said. "It's like a natural happiness that's coming."

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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