Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Sammi, Rebecca and Daniel
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Sammi, Rebecca and Daniel

Teenagers around the world are working to create positive change in their communities. We’re recognizing them in Rustic Spirit Spotlights and want to learn from these amazing individuals. By hearing their stories, we can be inspired to take action and make a difference in our own communities and around the world.

The following changemakers are doing amazing work!

Sammi Minkler
Age 17
New Vista High School
Longmont, Colorado

As a member of the Equity Committee, Sammi helps design and lead personal experience panels (PEPs) to help inform students and staff about practicing equity. She has focused on topics such as how to treat those with disabilities with respect, and the stigma around those on the autism spectrum.

In a leadership role on the Student Council, Sammi enjoys fundraising for the school and organizing events that bring teachers and students together. All of these initiatives promote empathy and a strong sense of community at her school!

Sammi especially has a passion for helping children with disabilities in her community. She first started gaining interest in this work when she volunteered in a special development classroom in middle school. Last summer, Sammi worked in a day camp for children with special needs and developed skills to create safe and comfortable environments. Currently, she’s employed as a swim instructor and has started learning how to teach swim skills to children with disabilities.

In college, Sammi is planning to major in Financial Mathematics at a CUNY school and plans to pursue a career in accounting, financial advising, or auditing. While Sammi used to consume media for fun, she’s now passionate about school, work, and friendships.

Sammi says anyone can make an impact on their community. Whether it’s promoting outreach in the community or directly working with those in need, it’ll always be equally important. You can pursue any passion you want, start small or large, and still find meaning in your work.

Rebecca Toronto
Age 17
Langley High School
McLean, Virginia

Rebecca has dedicated many hours to uplifting the elderly. Since visiting her late great-grandmother in a nursing home in middle school, she developed a strong appreciation for seniors in retirement facilities.

Every Sunday, Rebecca plays the piano at a local nursing home. In preparation to play requested songs, Rebecca finds the piece, prints it out, and practices it before performing. She always leaves with a smile remembering how the residents appreciate and clap after each song.

The last two years she has volunteered for an organization that aims to reduce loneliness by distributing letters to elders in nursing homes. Her chapter has organized fundraisers, conducted letter-writing events, and collected over 500 letters for retirement communities in Northern Virginia.

Rebecca plans to major in women’s and gender studies or international affairs with a minor in Spanish. From a young age, she has been determined to do activities traditionally associated with boys, such as fixing broken toys or doing more push-ups than anyone in her class. These experiences have inspired her passion for women’s rights and social activism. Rebecca enjoys snowboarding and thrifting, and is passionate about buying second hand due to the unethical fast fashion industry and conditions of sweatshops.

In order to make a positive impact, Rebecca advises others to find a hobby or pick up a skill and use it to help the community. For example, if you know how to crochet, you can start making blankets for a local homeless shelter. If you love baking, give some of the baked goods to a food bank or to your neighbors. Once you have a skill or hobby, there are a plethora of opportunities you can take up to make a positive impact in your community!

Daniel Allard
Age 17
La Salle High School
Yakima, Washington

Daniel continuously volunteers not only for service opportunities but any way he can assist in sports, church or elsewhere. He’s a leader who does what he can to help his community grow and make others feel included. On an immersive group trip,  Daniel stepped out of his comfort zone to reach out to those on the outskirts of the demographic.

In college, Daniel is interested in pursuing a chemistry major with hopes of being a teacher in the future. In his free time he enjoys sports, video games and time spent with friends and family.

Daniel advises to put yourself out there. Don’t wait for an opportunity to come–pursue it. Find joy in talking to people and never give up.

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.