SIOUX CITY | In most ways, Saige Kolbe is a typical 17-year-old. The West High School eleventh-grader loves listening to music and hanging out with friends; she would like to own a restaurant one day.
But she is also passionate about LGBT issues, the plight of the homeless, and wants to eliminate the stigma of mental illness for teenagers.
Saige has been chosen to be a Channel Kindness reporter for Lady Gaga's nonprofit Born This Way Foundation.
Established by the pop singer and her mother Cynthia Germanotta in 2012, the Born This Way Foundation is committed to supporting the wellness of young people while empowering them to create a kinder, braver world.
Saige will be one of the 50 reporters, ages 15 to 24, recruited to identify and document acts of generosity, compassion and acceptance for Channel Kindness.org as well as on all of the website's social media platforms.
She is the only Channel Kindness reporter to be chosen from Iowa.
"I first learned about the Kindness reporter program from my biology teacher Kent Martin, who encouraged me to apply," Saige remembered. "Applicants could send in a video, audio or written essay, introducing themselves.
"I wrote an essay that addressed mental illness," she continued. "All of the women in my family has suffered from depression at some point in their lives. I benefited from being in therapy and wanted others to know it's no big deal."
Saige has already gone to New York to receive training. However, she has yet to meet Lady Gaga.
"That would be a dream come true since I love Lady Gaga," she said, naming Bruno Mars and Pearl Jam as other musical favorites.
Music is very important to Saige, who is a drummer and can also play violin, guitar and the ukulele.
Martial arts are also important. She happens to be a second-degree black belt in taekwondo.
Mostly, Saige would like to change the public perception of teenagers.
"People think teens are into video games and that's about it," she said, shaking her head. "In reality, we want to make the world a better place."
Which isn't to say that Saige is all business, all the time.
"I love coloring my hair, she said, pointing out her pink 'do. "It's a form of personal expression, I guess."
So is cooking.
"My favorite things to make are crepes," Saige said. "Crepes are easy to make but you can add layers and layers of ingredients to them."
Plus she is also an unabashed fan of "RuPaul's Drag Race," the reality series.
"That's such a fun show because it is drama all the time," Saige suggested. "The only way to describe it is as 'Keeping up with the Kardashians,' only with drag queens instead of Kardashians."
While she has yet to post her first Channel Kindness story, Saige wants to spotlight subjects that will empower people to do good things.
"We need more acceptance and compassion,' she said. "That is how we can shape our community."