Elizabeth Potter, a senior at Cheney High School, spent ages 8 to 12 growing up in Thailand. After six years, Potter returned there during February and March this year to work for the nonprofit Echo.
“Echo is a nonprofit that partners with nongovernmental organizations, missionaries and locals to promote agricultural sustainability,” Potter said.
Over the course of her internship, Potter mainly did office work, but she also got to help with a research project called Seed Storage. It is working to make vacuum sealing technology affordable, with a bike pump, so seed can be stored without it being ruined by the humid weather.
When she got back from Thailand, Potter turned around and went on another trip, this time with her church to Mexico on a mission.
Cheney High School supported Potter’s service endeavors and throughout she was able to keep good grades – all while serving a greater good.
Potter’s science teacher, Mary Pratt, said: “Elizabeth raised all the money needed to travel to these areas, worked for the people and continued to do her schoolwork at Cheney High. I believe what drives her to do well is to see the happiness she can bring to others.”
Potter is also involved with Key Club, where she serves as vice president, and volunteers for service activities such as City Gate, Young Lives, Betts Elementary School and Santa Express.
She said her favorite aspect of doing service is listening to the stories of those she is helping.
Her drive to help others also translates into her education. Potter’s history teacher, Steve Arensmeyer, put it this way: “Part of Elizabeth’s unique perspective comes from her experiences in living overseas. She spent much of her life living overseas. She spent much of her childhood in Thailand, and so brings a well-rounded, global perspective.
“Truly a Renaissance person, she’s an athlete, a scholar, and an accomplished musician. She does it all, and she does it all well,” Arensmeyer said.
Potter will represent the Cheney High School class of 2018 as valedictorian.
She also is heavily involved in sports. She has competed in basketball, swimming and tennis, and while this is the first year she has not played soccer she was involved with club soccer for a long time.
In addition, Potter is musically talented. “I play the trumpet in jazz, the French horn in wind ensemble and guitar in my youth group worship,” she said.
Potter’s involvement with her school, church and community is second to none, according to her teachers. Asked how she does so much so well, Potter said: “I’m really motivated. I’m passionate about a lot of things.”
Potter said she wants to be a mentor and remain heavily involved in whatever community she is living in. “What’s helped me is having good role models throughout my life. I’ve always had the privilege of having someone to look up to, and I want to do that for kids.”
Riley Utley is a Gonzaga University student.