Palmetto High senior Daj’a Miller describes herself as a positive student. She is involved in school activities and has many interests outside of school, including volunteer work in the Baptist Health System, where her mother was once employed.
“The project I remember most was One Million Meals for Haiti, about three years ago, and it was a lot of fun,” Miller says. “There were hundreds of people participating. It was a two-day project. We were split into groups and each group had a goal of packing a specific number of bags of food. Every group met their goal and we ended up packing and sending nearly 20,000 bags of food. It was a great experience and wonderful to know that we helped feed almost a quarter-million starving people.
“ A year ago, Miller went on a mission with her church to the Dominican Republic. While there, they worked with an organization that deals with the homeless. Church members donated food, worked with the homeless and built a 20-bed shelter to help ease the people plight.
“It was great to see the people there that we helped,” she said. While others worked on the roof and built walls, Miller concentrated on painting and decorating the new facility.
“We painted the walls blue and the church donated furniture,” she says. “Besides the cots and tables, they put in a couple of fans.”
In Miami, Miller often goes with other church members to help feed the needy. The group makes sandwiches and gives them out with bottles of water to the hungry.
“It’s a great experience, very humbling,” she says.
At Palmetto High, Miller is co-captain of the Chatonettes dance/color guard team.
“I have to lead by example, not only with technique, but by being a role model to the girls,” she says.
The Chatonettes perform at football games and when the season ends, the team goes on to participate in a variety of competitions. They will go to a regional competition for the ADA and then to a national competition called the Contest of Champions at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. The team practices three days a week after school and it’s also a class. The Chatonettes participate in many community service events, including the annual holiday parade at The Falls. This year, they even performed at a car dealership that donated money to Palmetto High School every time a car was test driven by a school booster.
“We helped the school raise money by participating in that event,” Miller says.
Miller is also secretary of the mentoring scholarship program Women of Tomorrow. She says it’s the women’s version of the 5,000 Role Models organization. The club brought in a woman who specialized in the employment interview process. She gave the girls tips on how to dress for interviews, how to stay positive and how to answer questions.
“It was great and her advice she helped me get a job,” Miller says.
Next year, Miller plans to attend a college in Florida. “I asked for early action from all of the schools,” she says.
“I applied to UM, UCF, FAU and Florida Gulf Coast.”
She is considering sports medicine or physical therapy as her major courses of study.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld