St. Mary’s Dominican High School
“Growing up, I saw activism in small ways all around me – in my community, my school and even my own family,” Elyse Harrison says. She believes that service starts at the smallest level, whether it’s at a neighborhood playground or a nearby elementary school.
Harrison is the president of the National Honor Society, Secretary of Student Ambassadors, a student preacher, a Student Council Representative and a member of the Christian Leadership Council. Not only does she have a very active service life at school, but she’s also very involved with her community. She is an officer in the Knights of Peter Claver Junior Daughter’s division and is a member of the Catholic Youth Organization in All Saints parish.
“I feel it’s important to be involved in my community because what happens in my community affects me and everyone around me,” says Harrison. “In serving my community, I can make an investment that might benefit many generations after me. It’s often hard to see the impact of my service, but I try to stay focused on the long run.”
Harrison spends many afternoons at a neighborhood charter school, Lafayette Academy, where she tutors third grade students.
Harrison says, “They come to me with their big, bright smiles and tell me how excited they were to turn in their homework or to share an answer in class. It’s also rewarding to be able to mentor the next generation of New Orleans. I feel like I’m investing my time in New Orleans’ future, and the future of my beloved city is something I’m deeply passionate about.”
Tutoring isn’t always the easiest for any volunteer, but Lafayette Academy is a great experience for the tutor and the trainee. Lafayette Academy is a school where 25 percent of the student body is classified as homeless, and tutoring can ensure that the students are getting the best possible educational experience.
As a student preacher, Harrison was asked to speak to freshmen who were beginning their service hours for graduation about her experiences at Lafayette Academy. During her talk, she communicated the rewarding experiences that the academy had offered her.
In her spare time, Harrison enjoys cheering for the Hornets, reading fiction novels, watching movies and spending time with her family. She would like to study business, work in tourism and hospitality management and become an elected official. She hopes to be elected Mayor of New Orleans one day.