Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – A Ripple in the River

Name: Karlee Perry
From: Baltimore, MD
Grade: 11th (Currently a high school senior)
School: Instistute of Notre Dame
Votes: 0

The biggest area of my volunteering is with the underrepresented peoples.
This includes children of color, refugees, and impoverished men and
women in my city of Baltimore. My passion lies with helping those who
are just like me, but have not had the fortunate, comfortable life
that I have had.

Over the last 4 years of high school, I have accumulated 600+ hours of
community service. Every week, I devote 6 hours to mentoring at three
different schools. It’s hard to put a direct time stamp on the
service I partake in because of how sporadic some of the volunteer
work can be. My specific responsibilities vary from each volunteer
project I involve myself in. For example, the weekly mentoring at the
three schools entails homework help and tutoring, advice about boys,
high school, studying, friends, and health. We have forums on
cultural diversity and appreciation, and hold our own service
projects such as making blankets for abandoned animals. The major
difference is with the refugees kids I mentor. Most are new to the
country, so I help them with learning and understanding the basics of
American life and society. My biggest challenge has been balancing
how much time I devote to service with my academics. I love to fill
my plate up, and sometimes end up sacrificing my sleep because of how
much school work I have left at the end of the day.

One of the most satisfying experiences of my service thus far was helping
rehabilitate the home of a Superstorm Sandy survivor. For a week, our
group helped hang dry wall, paint her outdoors, and frame doors. The
entire time, we talked to her and helped her relieve a lot of the
built up anger and sadness that accumulated from her experience. She
confided in us and ended the week with a smile. It felt good because
everyone deserves to feel like they have a friend. I learned that I
too can be changed for the better by helping others. By helping them,
I am helping myself grow into a more loving and giving person. I am
so humbled.

I want to be a human rights attorney and start my own NGO for
underrepresented populations in my community. This way, I can be a
“ripple in the river”—meaning I may not change the world, but I
can help others work towards changing it. Specifically with my NGO, I
can help give young people the opportunity to volunteer and gain that
humbling that I gained. To me, that is forward looking. As the great
congressman Elijah Cummings has said, “Children are the messages we
send to the future we will never see”. The youth I motivate to help
others will then motivate others around them. I want to end the
negative titles placed on underrepresented communities. I want
everyone to be looked at as the same, and I want volunteer work to be
seen as helping out a fellow sister or brother.

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