Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Angelo, Melanie and Mary Banks
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Angelo, Melanie and Mary Banks

At Rustic Pathways, we’re inspired by the students who are making change in their communities and around the world. These young changemakers embody ‘Rustic Spirit.’ They have identified an issue, collaborated with others, and created a solution. Through their actions, they’re helping others and protecting our planet.

To recognize these amazing changemakers, Rustic Spirit Spotlights are a collection of stories that shine a light on their hard work and dedication towards making a positive impact.

Angelo Brantner
Age 18
Regis Catholic High school
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

For over four years Angelo has been a member of the Civil Air Patrol (United States Air Force Auxiliary), a program dedicated to teaching youth leadership and promoting aerospace education. Through CAP, Angelo has developed leadership qualities, respect, learned the Air Force traditions, and has also been able to further his studies in aerospace and engineering. He participated in the annual laying of wreaths at memorials across America to show respect to the fallen.

Angelo plans to major in both aerospace engineering and mathematics with a minor in astronomy. He hopes to be selected for the NASA Astronaut Candidate Program after serving in the Air Force. In his free time he loves to run, read, play trivia, travel and plane spot.

Angelo says after achieving something great or small, always reach back and help someone else up. Encourage them to achieve their goals and dreams.

Melanie Cedillo
Age 18
Wharton High School
El Campo, Texas

As secretary of the Anchor Club of Wharton, Melanie organizes events and strategies to get more people involved, and creates an environment where everyone can be seen and heard. From making gifts for senior citizens to organizing dinners for members of her rural town, Melanie’s work has enabled her to be a leader in her community and shown her how everyone can use a little help.

Melanie plans to major in architectural engineering because of her love for math and interest in design and creating concepts. She finds joy in mapping projects and sketching drawings, so she feels that this major will be the perfect fit to prosper at the University of Texas at Austin. Melanie enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing with her pets, listening to music, and working on show animals for the county fair.

As a student who wants to make a positive impact, Melanie advises putting yourself out there to meet new people and try new things. Joining groups like your local community service chapter is a perfect way to make new friends as well as make a positive impact on everyone around you!

Mary Banks High
Age 18
Colleton County High School
Walterboro, South Carolina

Mary Banks volunteers at the local homeless shelter in her community. With a large number of individuals in Colleton County experiencing homelessness, Mary Banks wants to help and give people hope. By volunteering, she has seen life from a different perspective. The smile she sees on people’s faces makes her day, and Mary Banks has realized how important it is to just listen to others.

In college, Mary Banks plans to major in English or political science. In the future, she hopes to become either a family court lawyer, criminal justice lawyer, or a trial lawyer. Mary Banks loves to stay busy with student council activities like making posters, planning events, and being involved in school. She also loves to hang out with friends and read.

Mary Banks encourages others who see a need in your community to help out and try to find a solution. Reach out to organizations to be involved as much as you can and put yourself in situations you aren’t used to. Make your environment the best it can be and make memories!

Nominate a Student

Do you know a student doing valuable work that deserves to be recognized? Nominate them here! Are you making an impact? Tell us about your work here.

Make Change

Interested in creating change in your community? Check out our guide and learn how to make an impact as a student.

At Rustic Pathways, our goal is to make positive contributions to the communities we visit through responsible travel operations and community service projects that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.