“I believe it’s especially important for young people to be involved in their community, as it will be their community in the future, says Jessica Garda, senior at Benjamin Franklin High School.
When Garda was 6 years old, her family discovered that her youngest brother had autism. That was when she discovered her passion to volunteer and work with those who have disabilities.
This past summer, Garda volunteered at Easter Seals camp in Rocky Mountain Village, Colo., for three weeks.
During that first week, Garda was tasked with taking care of an autistic camper who suffered from short-term memory loss and a wheat allergy. Garda made sure that the camper was bathed, changed, fed and interacting with the other campers.
Unfortunately, the camper didn’t like the counselors in years past, and Garda was no exception. It was hard for her because the camper would constantly yell at her and cry whenever she would see Garda. By the last day of camp, however, she was the only one who could comfort the camper.
“Though the experience was rewarding, as I learned more about the area of work that I wish to go into, by the end of the week I was mentally exhausted after spending hours attempting to find ways to get my camper involved while simultaneously making sure she was happy.”
Garda is also a 2013 Bezos Scholar. She credits her little brother with her ability to have a unique perspective when applying. She discussed her little brother and his autism in both her written essay and interview. With her clear vision of wanting to help those with autism, she was able to become a Bezos Scholar.
Garda is the founder and president of Table Talks – a club dedicated to identifying social issues and initiating service projects – president of National Honor Society and a member of Youth Rebuilding, the peer assistance team and Key Club.