17-year-old Keyra Howery isn’t quite Eliza Thornberry but, she does use her voice to her advantage, learns through family and wishes to travel the world helping animals.
Howery’s next mission is to travel to Costa Rica with Greenheart International, a global non-profit organization that promotes “cultural exchange, eco-fair trade, volunteerism, personal development and environmentalism” according to the group’s mission statement.
“I’d be working with monkeys and toucans and everything in the rainforest. This has been one of my passions since I was younger,” said Howery. While living in the Central American nation with a host family, Howery would be working in an endangered abandoned species animal rescue center where she would be feeding and rehabilitating animals while trying to get them back into the wild.
Howery’s connection to animals comes from her family background. She has had chickens since she was five, lives with three cats and has always been around guide dogs for her mother who is legally blind.
She is currently struggling to afford the trip and has been fundraising her trip to Costa Rica through a gofundme.com account. “I’ve been looking for students to help out a fellow student,” said Howery. Her parents contributed $17 to equal Howery’s age and have helped share her page through social media.
Although Howery wishes to travel beyond borders, most of her work is done from a six-by-five soundproof booth in the basement of her Clifton Park home. Last November, Howery did voiceover work introducing games for Nintendo’s Wii U expanded entertainment system. Howery also did voiceover work as the main narrator, Dakota, for the History Channel’s “Frontier Heroes” game app.
According to Howery, being a voice over actress does not always pay off for expenses such as her trip to Costa Rica. At Nintendo, Howery earned $900 for a phone patch, the most she has ever collected at once from voice over work. “There can be $5,000 jobs and $2,000 jobs. I haven’t even come close to that because I’m just a beginner,” she said.
Her mother Satuana has been in the vocal talent industry since 2008, doing work for notable clients such as the National Guard. Howery’s mother instilled confidence for her to land her first audition. ”It was really surprising and extremely crazy. I thanked my Mom immediately afterwards,” said Howery, “I don’t have any formal voiceover training. I just like to do voiceover work.”
“My parents are incredibly supportive and they’re two of my best friends and i’m so glad I have them,” she said, “they’ve just always been there for me.”
When Howery was in fifth grade her parents supported her decision to leave Shenendehowa and pursue an alternative education at home. “I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the teachers. All of students knew each other since Kindergarten so it was all very clique-y. I didn’t want to break into that friend group,” said Howery, “I had no friends. I didn’t like my teachers. It just wasn’t fun. My parents were supportive enough to pull me out.”
She tried out public education once again in eighth grade and found her experience unsatisfactory after failing out of school. After about a year, she decided to become active in the early high school program. Howery has not always been active in extracurricular activities on campus due to devoting her time to getting help at the Learning Assistance Center (LAC). “I’m not good with math. I’m really terrible at it so working [in the LAC] has been really helpful,” said Howery.
Howery has been in the 24-credit, early high school program to get a GED through Hudson Valley since the age of 15. She was non-matriculated until the current semester. “It looked like the best way to a college diploma while still getting some college credits,” she said.
Howery was born in Seattle and moved to Albany at the age of seven. “We did a whole road trip across the country and visited Albany,” she said. She still connects with friends in Albany and Seattle along with other homeschooled kids in the area through programs like ski club club for home schooled students at Gore Mountain.
According to Howery, most of her current friends are home schooled students from regional programs. Two of her home schooled friends, AJ and Amy currently attend Hudson Valley. Howery describes Amy as a previously “unschooled” student, a type of homeschooling where students decide their own syllabus based on their personal interests.
She considers her own brand of home schooling as “in the middle” between unschooling and faith-oriented home schooling.
Along with connecting to home schooled students around the region, she spends time connecting with animals.
Locally, she has worked at a shelter in Clifton Park, with a woman that had animals donated to her. “We went to Petsmart and we would sit with the cats in the cages and try to get people to adopt them,” she recalled.
While working at local animal shelters, Howery vividly remembers her experience,“It’s definitely depressing because you have all these animals that just won’t get adopted. I was never at a place where they would get put down but definitely thinking about that is difficult because there’s so many good animals out there that don’t have homes.”