Palmer Trinity School senior Rebecca Merritt has earned more than 400 community service hours. She earned many of those hours by being a counselor at the YMCA summer camp in Burlington, KY. She attended the camp since she was eight years old and decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a counselor when she was old enough.
She has now worked three summers as a counselor with eight and nine year olds.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” she says. “I really enjoy working with kids.”
Merritt also volunteered at Miami Children’s Hospital. She went to the hospital once a week for a month.
“I would spend time with the patients, talk to them about my life or share stories,” she says. “They would have games to play.”
She worked in the neurology section where many of the patients were in and out of the hospital frequently. They enjoyed hearing about other people’s life experiences.
“I think it takes off a lot of the focus about them,” she says.
She also ran errands for the nurses if they needed help. Merritt volunteered at the hospital because she had always been interested in the medical field.
“I wanted to see the daily process,” she says. “I think it gave me a little more insight on what I want to do for the future. I loved going there and working with the kids, but I wouldn’t want to do that for my occupation. I’m still searching.”
Working at Miami Children’s also helped her realize how fortunate she and her friends are because they are healthy and didn’t have to be hospitalized at a young age. Now that she’s decided against going into the health care field, she’s unsure about what she wants to do. She has been looking at doing something in the environmental field.
“I went to a student leadership conference at the National Conservation Training Center,” she says. “We met with other students there and talked about what we can do in our school about reducing the carbon footprint. I’m vice president of the Eco Club.”
The Eco Club is quite active. To start off the school year, they planned on doing a beach clean-up and they are involved in a mangrove reclamation project.
“We put the seedlings in a cup of water and when they are big enough, we go and plant them,” she says. “They are grown at school. Last year we did one where each student was responsible for one cup and they would go and water it.”
The seedlings are grown on blank walls on the middle school building and on the science building.
Merritt is also involved in sports. She played basketball in ninth and tenth grade, but in her junior year she switched to soccer because she wanted to practice outdoors and she felt soccer was more fun and laid back. She hasn’t abandoned basketball completely. She volunteered at the Tamiami League for kids’ basketball and operated the game clock.
She also volunteers at her church, Kendall United Methodist. She works at the Vacation Bible School and she has gone with church members on three mission trips to Jamaica.
“I loved it a lot,” she says. “I grew up with Jamaican Chinese culture. Going down and being able to relate, I felt I was helping my people, my roots. That was what was so awesome about that trip.”
Merritt has already completed most of her college application forms and will send them off to the University of Florida, Wellesley and Boston University.