At first glance, Sophia Votava may appear to be the definition of an overinvolved high school student.
Between AP classes, athletics and being senior class vice president, Votava has barely any free time left during the school year. But what she lacks in personal time, she makes up for in dedication and passion for community service and leadership.
“She is through and through a Shadle Park Highlander,” said Mark Harmon, Votava’s leadership teacher at Shadle Park High School. Harmon recognizes Votava as one of the school’s strongest candidates for accomplishment.
“Sophia always thinks of others before herself,” continued Harmon. “I think her selfless attitude will serve her so well in the future.”
Votava was voted senior class vice president, which enabled her to be enrolled in Harmon’s leadership class. Through this class, Votava was able to organize and collaborate on projects to help the greater Spokane community. Inspired by the current #MeToo movement, her group decided to focus one of their projects on women’s achievements.
“March happened to be Women’s History Month and had International Women’s Day as well, so we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to embrace women’s achievements to inspire women now,” said Votava.
Votava and her group focused on women’s achievements in and around the high school. She reflects fondly on her time in the leadership class with Harmon, saying it was helpful in teaching her how to work with adults.
“It’s easy to be intimidated by working with adults and being on an equal playing field with them is a good opportunity,” said Votava, who worked with businesses to plan events throughout the year.
Votava is also involved in a Young Life group, as a student leader. Harmon added that she was an instrumental part of a food drive and her school’s community service project for Groovy Shoes, which is an annual contest between Shadle Park and North Central high schools. She also is a student leader at a local school in the homework center.
After graduation, Votava plans to attend the University of Washington, pursuing a degree in engineering. She hopes to focus on environmental issues associated with that field. She chose this path because she excels in both math and science.
“Doing something you’re passionate about and good at is the perfect combination,” said Votava of her career choice.
Votava will attend UW through the STARS engineering program, a program for students pursuing engineering or computer science who come from underserved high schools, meaning that 30 percent or greater of the students are on free or reduced-price lunch.
“She is very understated, and she will not take credit for anything,” added Harmon. “She is a person who really can get behind a cause and very quietly and modestly get something organized, usually for the benefit of an organization or other people.”
Votava said she is excited to continue her education in the fall. She is hopeful to meet new people with similar interests and experiences. She plans to spend the rest of the school year focusing on schoolwork, tennis and prom. In her free time, she can be caught catching up on “Catfish” and HGTV.
“No matter what field she chooses, she is going to make an impact because of her positive, selfless attitude,” concluded Harmon.
Molly Gianarelli is a student at Gonzaga University.