Shelby Heath Meckstroth, a New Orleans native and senior at The Taft School (a boarding school in Connecticut), received the prestigious 2012 South African Summer Citrus Soccer Star award.

At Taft, Meckstroth is involved with a volunteer council that organizes activities for blood drives for local organizations, goes to homeless shelters and participates in other service opportunities in the community. She also volunteers as a tour guide, showing potential students the Taft campus.

Meckstroth participated in the Rotary Youth Leadership program in Louisiana, where she gained the skills to be a dorm monitor at Taft. For the past two years she has lived in the underclassmen dorm and acts as a confidant towards the students in the dorms. “But above all, I’m there as a friend for the freshman and sophomores throughout the year as someone who has been where they are and gone through the classes they are going through,” she says.

Soccer is an integral part of Meckstroth’s character. This past summer she went to Nicaragua to participate in Fútbol Sin Fronteras, Soccer Without Borders, where she was able to work with local kids and coach soccer.

“While in Nicaragua,” she says, “I was able to go to gym classes to coach the girls, and also help run the camp that Soccer Without Boarders puts on year round. Soccer is a sport that I’ve grown up playing, so it was really great that I was able to use my knowledge and love for the game to connect with and teach the young Nicaraguan girls that they can be leaders of their community.”

She also was one of eight youths across the country to receive the 2012 South African Summer Citrus Soccer Star award. This award was established by the South African Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, a group of South African Citrus growers who export citrus to the United States.

During her twin brother’s state championship soccer game, Meckstroth’s father suffered a heart attack. Since her mother wasn’t at the game, she had to act quickly to help save her father’s life. Meckstroth found another parent to help transport her father to the hospital, where she was able to provide all of the vital health information to the physicians during his treatment.

“I had to be courageous during his heart attack, and I learned to be a stronger person because of this event,” she says. “This was very scary at first, but I had to be brave in front of him.”

Meckstroth is now entering her senior year at The Taft School and is preparing for college, where she wants to focus on pre-med and study to become a physician in the New Orleans area while traveling to help those in Central America.