“Being involved in your community involves so many aspects that can ultimately affect someone’s growth and development entirely,” says Caroline Elizabeth MacLaren, a senior at Ursuline Academy High School.

MacLaren is involved with her school and local communities by participating in retreat team, Peer Ministry Club, Executive Board and Beyond Our Borders service immersion program.

Over the past four years MacLaren has volunteered with the Spina Bifida of Greater New Orleans Camp Friendship. The organization hosts a day camp for children with Spina Bifida or other orthopedic conditions. Each camper is paired with a high school volunteer counselor. MacLaren is placed with many campers each summer that she volunteers. Some years she has repeat campers, and they teach her perseverance through her hardships.

“When I’m around these campers, I’m at my happiest state. No matter what happens throughout the difficulties of family, school, health or even the undecided state of politics and issues our society faces, I’m grounded in my memories and presence in this camp,” says MacLaren. “I stay grounded knowing that these loving children are enjoying the best of their life, and I’m influenced and inspired by each and every one of them.”

This past April, MacLaren participated in Spirit of America’s Freedoms program. This program is a four-day conference for high school students to learn more about citizenship, democracy, the free enterprise and judicial systems, and American political process.

“America’s Freedom shaped the beliefs I had, and helped me come to realize the intersection of service and political activism,” says MacLaren.
Stephanie Carton, one of MacLaren’s English teachers that she had in the eighth and 10th grades, and one year taught her Women’s Literature, has served as an inspiration.

“Carton greatly impacted my life by inspiring me and providing me with an understanding of the need for female empowerment, representation, and recognition,” says MacLaren. “By her inspiration, particularly as a female role model, I felt prepared to apply the knowledge of our world by turning that into action.”

MacLaren would love to go to Tulane University or University of Southern California where she wants to study Computer Science and focus on coding and developing websites. After high school, MacLaren wants to advocate in beliefs in which she stands firm. She would love to go abroad and work in developing countries to implement better access to technology.