“Involvement in the community also gives me a true sense of purpose and allows me to truly appreciate everything I have in life,” says Anna Alessi Mermilliod, a senior at St. Mary’s Dominican High School.

Mermilliod is involved within her Dominican community as a member of Mu Alpha Theta, as Vice President of the National Honor Society and as co-manager of Dominican’s basketball team.

At the start of her junior year, Mermilliod began an after school program with the New Orleans Women and Children’s Shelter, dedicated to building a love of learning in the children who take residence there. Some students need help with tutoring, while others need emotional support.

Katie Almon, Dominican’s Campus Minister, inspired Mermilliod to volunteer. Even though Almon doesn’t necessarily teach Mermilliod, she has worked closely with Almon to prepare for her mission trip.

“Almon’s stories of activism never fail to produce smiles on everyone’s faces. She has endured tremendous hardship, yet still brings an enormously positive light to the Dominican community,” says Mermilliod.

In February of her junior year, Mermilliod was able to participate in Dominican’s annual mission trip to the town of Baní in the Dominican Republic. As part of the mission, the students brought school supplies and hospitality to the school system.

“One night, we went around and said what aspect of Baní had surprised us thus far,” says Mermilliod. “Most resounding was our amazement at the children’s attentiveness to us: their eagerness to learn English words, their passion with the stickers we brought and the immediate bond they shared with us.”

Mermilliod is looking forward to attending college after completing her senior year; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The George Washington University, University of Georgia and University of Virginia are the main contenders on where she wants to go to next year. She wants to study medicine and hopes to become a neurosurgeon. After high school, she hopes to have the ability to donate her time and money towards those less fortunate than she for the rest of her life.