Kara grew up on a farm/ranch in northeastern Montana with four older brothers who helped her develop a strong work ethic, competitive spirit, and caring attitude. Kara’s mother, Elizabeth Kleppen, became a physician’s assistant when Kara was four years old, and was a role-model she always looked up to. When Kara was 17, she spent time job-shadowing her mother, and those experiences cemented her desire to become a rural family-practice physician. She became a certified nurse’s assistant and an emergency medical technician, and worked both in the hospital and the emergency room on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana for two summers. As a senior in biological systems engineering at the University of Idaho, she applied to the University of Washington’s Medical School through the WWAMI program and was accepted. As a Montana resident, Kara completed her first year of medical school at Montana State University in Bozeman.