Miami Palmetto High School senior Sophie Shrestha has made a point of giving back to her community, whether here in Pinecrest or in her father’s native country of Nepal. Last year she organized a drive to collect school supplies and jackets to take to Nepal to donate to a rehabilitation center for disabled children.
“I wanted to give back to where my family comes from,” she says.
She chose the rehabilitation center to help an organization in Nepal that takes disabled children off the streets and gives them medical care, a home and access to schooling.
In all, she collected approximately 50 items, including boxes of pencils, folders, highlighters, and crayons which she personally delivered to the rehab center during a family visit to Nepal.
“When I got there, I was able to give all the kids some pencils and we got them all some chocolate and we gave that to them,” she says. “They were all so happy. It was amazing to see them. They were truly, truly grateful.”
Shrestha says she had considered giving each child a box of pencils but was counseled by one of the teachers to give them just one or two.
“We didn’t think it was enough, but for them, it was everything,” she says.
She visits her family in Nepal every three years.
“I want to go more often,” she says. “Especially because I want to continue this project.”
Besides her outreach to Nepal, she also traveled to tropical Guatemala as part of the Emmaus Medical Mission.
“Most of the time I was shadowing doctors,” she says. “One day I was with the neurologist. We got to treat people with arthritis. Another day I was with the general physician. We saw people with diabetes and cardiac issues. People would come from all over to get medical treatment.”
The mission trip was of interest to her because she wants to be a doctor when she gets older.
Due to her interest in medicine, she conducted research on reagents for point of care devices this summer at a University of Miami biochemistry lab for six weeks. She presented a poster about her research at the Miami Winter Symposium, an international biochemistry conference. She hopes to continue doing research when she starts college next fall.
She’s applying to the University of Miami, Brown and Duke to study Biochemistry.
Although globally minded, Shrestha maintains a focus on issues that impact her community directly.
“We are going to go into sophomore classrooms and teach them about the environment,” she said about her tenure as the environmental outreach chair for the student council at Palmetto High School. “We are getting certified as CLEO certified environmental speakers about the topic.”
She is actively involved in efforts to make her school go green.
“Recently we had the school activities fair,” she says. “We had a table there talking about environmental issues. The students are very, very interested in this topic.”
Despite her busy academic schedule, Shrestha acts as treasurer of the Science National Honor Society and has participated in the Envirothon competition for three years.
“My team was able to win first place in aquatics my sophomore year and first place over all in the regionals my junior year.”
She is a member of Mu Alpha Theta and has participated in History Bowl one year for the Social Science National Honor Society.
Shrestha has her black belt in Taekwondo and studied classical Indian dancing for six years, participating every year in the Diwali Festival and Dancing with the World Competition.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld