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Maura James - Student's goal is to make a difference

April 21, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

BOONSBORO - At almost 17, Maura James has made her life's plans.

She wants to attend American University and study the world.

Next, she'll volunteer in Africa with the Peace Corps.

After that, she'd like to work for the U.S. Department of State.

"My goal is to make a difference," she said.

For now, that means altruism at Boonsboro High School, where she's a junior and president of the Service Club.

The club had a dance marathon that raised about $1,200, which was split evenly between the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina victims and for club member Brittany Neville, who has aplastic anemia, a bone-marrow disorder.

It held a service fundraiser in which it did a variety of community chores.

Two years ago, club members helped build a Habitat for Humanity house in Boonsboro.

They volunteer once a month at the Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless (REACH) shelter in Hagerstown.

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Maura said the group serves lunch at the shelter to between 40 and 60 people, depending on how cold it is that day.

She said the menu usually is "grilled-cheese sandwiches, with soup and salad. And someone makes brownies."

The REACH experience is what attracted Maura to the Service Club.

"I love interacting with all the people," she said. "The conversations you have are priceless. As the volunteer, I sometimes get more out of it."

Her other school involvements include the drama department, the student council and two singing ensembles.

Maura - who moved to Washington County six years ago from New Jersey - said she keeps busy outside of school, too.

She volunteers at Antietam National Battlefield and also works part time at the battlefield's bookstore.

She is a cantor and teaches Sunday school at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

For the last three years, she has volunteered at Reeders Memorial Home in Boonsboro.

That started as a service project so she could be confirmed. She filled water pitchers there.

Now, she helps take Reeders residents to and from church services.

"I work with the Alzheimer's wing," she said. "That is really hard. A lot of people don't have relatives to visit them ... Sometimes, I'm the only person they see."

Maura said she intentionally keeps her schedule full.

"I enjoy having too much to do," she said. "I always feel like I have to be working toward something."




Q&A

Name - Maura James

Address - Boonsboro

Date of birth - April 25, 1989

Occupation - 11th-grade student at Boonsboro High School, part-time employee at Antietam National Battlefield bookstore

Most notable achievement - Being president of Service Club. It is a challenging and rewarding experience.

Proudest moment - Singing with my father at my brother's wedding. We sang "The Prayer."

Who is the person you most admire and why? - My mom is the person I admire most. She is the greatest teacher in my life. I admire her for being able to be a full-time teacher and raise three amazing children. She is always there for me and I love her very much.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? - The best piece of advice I've ever received is to just keep going. My voice and piano teachers tell me this in reference to performing. I find it is helpful in all aspects of life. If you just keep going, in the end, you grow and become a better person from the experience.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - Graduate college and join the Peace Corps. I really want to make a difference in the world and help people.

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