Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Making a Difference

Name: Kayla Keister
From: Fort Defiance , Virginia
Grade: Junior in high school
School: Fort Defiance High School
Votes: 0

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for
you, but what you can do for your country.” This very quote is the
quintessence of why I choose to serve: I believe in placing others
before myself rather than asking what others may do for me. My
volunteer work is both within my high school as well as without, both
providing me with an indescribable feeling of satisfaction.

I volunteer in a variety of areas which depend on the season and time
of year, including tutoring at my high school. Before becoming a
member of National Honor Society, I was unsure of the extent to which
volunteerism was important, but that all changed this year. I began
staying after regular school hours for about an hour-and-a-half to
help students that were struggling in their core subjects. As an
advanced academic student, I loved being able to share my knowledge
in a way that was comprehensible to the students around me; my
genuine happiness in knowing that I helped someone succeed and
understand was overwhelming. I continue to volunteer to tutor after
school, totaling about sixty hours thus far.

During Christmas time and winter, I began doing volunteer work with my mom
and my aunt. My aunt volunteers once a month at the Valley Mission, a
local homeless shelter that provides food for people who cannot
afford it or who are without shelter. Being able to see the
individuals’ faces light up upon receiving a warm meal was more
than gratifying. My mom is a social worker, and each year, her
department hosts an all-day event called Saturdays with Santa. Prior
to the event, parents who cannot afford to get their children the
gifts they want fill out a form with a wish list for each child.
After receiving all of the lists, the department goes and purchases
the gifts for the children and wraps them up like Christmas presents.
On the day of the event, parents and children come and receive
cookies and candy before sitting on Santa’s lap. The gifts are
brought to Santa, who gives them to the children. Though it was the
most challenging (because I had to speak in Spanish with families who
could not understand English), this experience really revealed to me
how blessed I am, and knowing that I was able to make a child’s
Christmas wishes come true was absolutely incredible; there are no
words to do that feeling justice.

My experiences in serving my community have already prepared me well for
my potential career in neuroscience and Parkinson’s disease
research, a field that requires a genuine love of people and
willingness to serve. I hope to make a difference in the lives of
every person I encounter, both in community service and not, for one
small act of kindness can change someone’s life, and I believe,
simply by the reactions and gratefulness of those I served, that I
have made a difference in someone’s life by expressing kindness.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".