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Mikaela keen to travel and perform

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Passion to perform: Mikaela Kawaley-Lathan with her ukulele

Mikaela Kawaley-Lathan planned to go straight to university after high school.

Then she saw her brother Zachary perform with inspirational tour group Up With People.

“I was awestruck,” she said “I didn’t want to stay in my seat. I wanted to get up there and perform with them.”

The 18-year-old was studying at United World College Adriatic near Trieste, Italy at the time. She saw the group perform in Rome.

“My brother said I would adore the programme,” she said. “It had interacting with people, travel and performance, all the things I loved. I spent the weekend with them.”

She fell in love with Up With People and applied as soon as she could.

Her parents, Richard and Kathleen, weren’t keen when she told them the news.

“They wanted me to go straight to university,” she said, “but then they saw how much I wanted to do it. They were also a little concerned how I would raise the funds.”

She graduated from high school in May and is now back in Bermuda working to raise the necessary $17,000.

Miss Kawaley-Lathan is also holding a fundraiser at Liberty Theatre on Friday, the Bermuda premiere of Disney’s Moana.

The film follows the adventures of the headstrong Polynesian; the first Disney princess without a love interest.

“The movie is really exciting,” she said. “I am a Disney fan and love princesses. It is really good to have an islander princess. I am really excited for that.”

Miss Kawaley-Lathan was the lead in BMDS’ pantomime Sleeping Beauty, in 2013.

“As a child my favourite princess was Belle, because she loved to read like I did,” she said. “Then I saw Tangled and my favourite was Rapunzel.”

Her plan is to join Up With People in January and start drama therapy studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in August.

“I have always loved theatre and feel it helped me develop a lot of who I am,” she said. “It helped me to understand people from a different perspective.

“Because it was such a big part of my life, I thought it would be a cool way to help other people.”

Miss Kawaley-Lathan hopes that Up With People will help “broaden her scope”.

Her brother warned her she was in for “a lot of work”.

“The schedule is really packed,” she said. “You are exhausted, but it is so worth it as your friends become lifetime ones.”

After university, she’d like to open a psychology practice here, or work with young people at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.

The Moana premiere starts at 6.30pm. Tickets, $25, are available from www.ptix.bm. The prince includes popcorn and a drink.

See more on Facebook: Mikaela’s Up With People Adventure.

Lady with her ukulele: Mikaela Kawaley-Lathan