Student Accolade - Kaytlin Do

October 13, 2003

After years of being a cheerleader in Texas, Kaytlin Do has grown used to sweltering football seasons and worn-out stereotypes about her sport. But she's still not crazy about being airborne. 
Unfortunately for her, at 4 feet 10 inches, Do is one of the smallest of Baylor's 12 yell leaders, so being catapulted to the heights sort of comes with the territory. 
"It was a little nerve-racking at first," says Do, a senior finance major from Arlington, Texas, who's a third-year yell leader and this year's team co-captain. But after hundreds of practices and games -- yell leaders practice up to 12 hours a week during the fall -- she fearlessly scales the human pyramids and sails through the air. "You learn to trust everybody," she says. 
Her competitive nature compels her to push the limits, too. "I've always been the type of person who wants to outdo myself," she says. "That's part of the reason why I like cheerleading. There's no limit to being the best, because there's always something you can do to be even better." 
Not surprisingly, it's this same determined spirit that causes her to shrug off questions about what some might consider a real challenge -- Do was born without her left hand. 
"If I had to go back and if I were able to be born 'normal,' I really wouldn't choose to. It makes me the person I am today," says Do, who played softball and volleyball before focusing on cheering in high school. "It makes me think in different ways. How can I use a baseball glove? Or how can I use a pom-pom? It forces me to be innovative." 
It's also given Do the opportunity to be a role model for others. Last year, she met a 5-year-old girl who also was born with only one hand. 
"I saw a lot of me in her. She was ready to do anything and didn't care what anybody had to say. To be able to be encouraging to her and have her look up to me was a great thing. If that was my whole purpose in life, it was the greatest feeling."