Junior Citizen of the Year: Elaina Seybold


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

When Elaina Seybold was in sixth grade, a chronic illness kept her in the hospital for an extended period. During that time, she decided that going forward in her life, she’d never turn down an opportunity. “I was missing time and friends, so now when I find an opportunity, I take advantage of it,” she said. “I appreciate what I can do. For a long time, I couldn’t do anything – I had to make up work online.”

Since then, Seybold hasn’t stopped. Her all-encompassing, self-driven approach led her to be rated #2 in her senior class at Laguna Beach High School (out of 253) and honored as Junior Citizen of the Year (along with Tyler Palino) and ride in the Patriots Day Parade. The sum of her community service activities, academic achievements, sports accomplishments and awards is mind-boggling.

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Elaina Seybold ranks second in her senior class of 253 students

However, even before she started building an impressive resume, she came into the world with a bit of fanfare. Seybold had the distinction of having her birth live streamed, so her father, Joe, who was in Kuwait in the military, could see it.

On her college essay, Seybold wrote, “My dad’s active duty has shaped my patriotism and my appreciation for the sacrifices of our armed forces. Also, his long deployments cultivated my strength, resilience, adaptability and commitment to serving my country and the greater good.”

Seybold went all through the Laguna Beach School District, starting with TOW Elementary. Her older brother now attends the Naval Academy in Maryland, and her younger brother is a freshman at LBHS.

A love for science

Seybold grew up surrounded by science. “My dad was an electrical engineer but then did civil engineering with the Air Force and was more aerospace focused with Boeing – Rockwell and NASA. He worked on the space shuttle program, and I had all the models as a kid.”

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Seybold with her cat, Tiger

So, it’s no surprise that Seybold has an affinity for science.

“I like biomedical engineering and have pursued it thoroughly,” she said. “I was exposed to it at a young age and have spent my summers doing research projects in the field.

“After my freshman year, I took an extra class to accelerate in science over the summer then ended up in AP Bio my sophomore year. I found a passion for it and applied to a research project over the summer. There, I worked on two separate projects.” One involved the invasive monitoring technology in the ICU. “I was working on a project that was replacing intravenous blood catheter reading with that of a sonar chip. The readings were sent with Bluetooth and then interpreted by a computer.”

Part of Seybold’s dedication comes from her experience.

“I’ve been in the hospital and know how annoying (the equipment) it can be.” she said. “Then after taking bio, I took physics, and found a passion for it as well. UCI had a program for cosmology and physics, and I joined it. My lab took data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and attempted to estimate the energy at which Einstein’s theory of relativity falls apart.

“I like biomedical engineering because I have a background in research,” she said. “I spent my summers doing different projects but also struggled with my own health issues and have been exposed to so much of that technology and its growth and development throughout my younger years; I would like to enter that field.”

More of a thinker than a talker

Her mother, Jennifer, said, “Elaina makes me proud every single day. Her work ethic is off the charts. She is intelligent beyond her years, but she has never taken that for granted; she has a genuine thirst for knowledge and revels in learning about all subjects.

“She is more of a thinker than a talker, but sometimes she absorbs so much information about a particular subject that she may burst if she doesn’t find someone to share it with. And it is fun to watch her glow as she excitedly tries to make that person understand and love it as much as she does.

“Elaina has and continues to overcome health challenges, which makes her acutely aware of and empathetic to others’ challenges. Her volunteer work has been broad and extensive, but also hits very close to home. She has discovered how great it feels to help others and has enjoyed that journey. I love the person she has become, and I’m excited to see what’s next.”

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Seybold loves baking and whips up brownies, bread, pizza and just recently made her own pasta

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Of all her accomplishments, there are a few that stand out.

She is particularly proud of being selected for National Merit Girls and Boys State and of serving as a counselor for Camp Oasis. “I went to summer camp there and then became a counselor,” she said.

A listing of Seybold’s accomplishments:

Science/STEM Research and Shadows:

–COSMOS (California State Summer School for Math & Science), University of California at Irvine, July 2023.

–BEAM (BioEngineering AI Medicine), University of California at Irvine, Gifted and Talented Institute, July 2022, research fellow in live-in two-week program.

–Society of Women Engineers, Rochester Institute of Technology, Engineering Shadow, April 2023. Examined various engineering fields, focus on biomedical, through hands-on labs and interaction with RIT professors.

–Orange County Public Health Laboratory, Site Visit, June 2023.

Civic Engagement and Leadership:

–Peer Mentor Program, Mentor, September 2022-Present.

–Camp Oasis, Leader-in-Training, June 2023.

–Created and maintained blog regarding Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis to provide nutritional resources and advice for the disease.

–“Special Camp,” Counselor, August 2022. Guided and supported a teen with special needs as a one-on-one counselor at week-long camp for Special Kids with disabilities.

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Seybold plays basketball and lacrosse

Athletic Achievements:

–Laguna Beach High School Varsity Basketball, Center/Power Forward, September 2020 to Present.

–Four-Year Varsity.

–Team reached Semi-Finals for CIF Southern Section 4A, Qualified for State Championships and played 2 rounds (2023).

–Team reached Semi-Finals for CIF Southern Section 5AA, Qualified for State Championships and played 2 rounds (2022).

–Laguna Beach High School Varsity Lacrosse.

–CIF Southern Section Women in Sports Conference, February 2023.


–Laguna Beach High School Newspaper and Stu News.


–CERT (Community Emergency Response Training), City of Laguna Beach (28 hrs.), Academic Year 2020/2021.

Honors And Awards:

–National Merit Scholarship Program 2023 Semifinalist.

–The President’s Volunteer Service Award 2022-2023 (100+ volunteer hours in a 12-month period).

–Sunset Conference All-Academic Team (2020/2021, 2021/2022, 2022/2023 Basketball and Lacrosse Seasons).

–AP Scholar Award with Distinction (2023); AP Scholar Award (2022).

As any parents would be, the Seybolds are very proud of Elaina. Her dad said, “Elaina never ceases to amaze me with her insight, diligence and ability to get things done with the exception of keeping her room tidy. Elaina rarely asks for assistance with her homework but when she does, thankful for me, she answers her own question before she finishes asking it. Elaina is a very sweet person who is passionate about learning and discovering new things. Her smile lights up my heart.”

Congratulations, Elaina! See you in the Patriots Day Parade on March 2.


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