Vail Daily column: Teen committed to serving others in community | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Teen committed to serving others in community

Natalie Morrissey

How do teenagers in this valley juggle the many demands and pressures placed on them by their parents, teachers, coaches and friends? As technology evolves and expectations increase, I assume the same level of teen anxiety would also increase. During my interactions with high school students from East Vail to Gypsum, I am constantly baffled by the humility and generosity of these impressionable, young adults. Natalie Morrissey, a senior at Eagle Valley High School, is no exception.

Accomplished Student

Listening to Morrissey rattle off her long list of accomplishments and awards, one would expect her to be distracted by the next commitment during her overscheduled day. On the contrary, her kind demeanor, smile and inviting personality puts others at ease — an admirable trait. She is difficult to place in one specific social clique as she offers such depth to a diverse group of people. She is an accomplished athlete and competes on Eagle Valley High School's track and field team (pole vault) and dance/cheer team. Her classroom honors speak towards her impressive academic achievements: Senior class co-valedictorian (based on highest GPA), a National Honor Society recipient, a finalist for the esteemed Boettcher Scholarship, president of the Future Business Leaders of America and her acceptance to the prestigious United States Naval Academy. She does not resist challenges and is active in the community. She tutors students at Gypsum Elementary School and tutors fellow high school classmates through the AVID program. A talented gymnast, she coaches and mentors young children at the Vail Recreation District.

Morrissey attributes her many successes to her caring family and supportive community. She boasts that "character development" is something that is earned, not inherited.

Appreciating Generosity

"Community service is a beneficial way to reciprocate the generous actions of the people in the Vail Valley and show appreciation for them," she said.

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She is most proud of her leadership role during Eagle Valley High School's Community Service Day. She was appointed the student coordinator position and was responsible for organizing the largest student volunteer day in the state of Colorado. More than 700 students, parents and teachers collaborated to improve the landscaping at a local cancer treatment facility and supermarket. In typical fashion, she completed this difficult task void of self-praise or personal recognition.

Leadership Council member

Morrissey plays a crucial role in Eagle River Youth Coalition's Youth Leadership Council. These hand-selected students represent the local high schools and advise police authorities, principals, school counselors and small businesses on community-wide youth concerns. Through a collective voice, the Youth Leadership Council members offer strategies to make our valley a healthier and more inclusive environment for teens.

Morrissey will be attending the United States Naval Academy in Maryland this fall. Considering her stellar academic achievements, she had numerous college admission opportunities, but her commitment to serving others was a dominant factor in choosing the Naval Academy. Upon graduation, she aspires to pursue a career as a Navy pilot. I am confident that whatever path Natalie chooses, it will be quite special, and she will continue to place other's needs before her own.

Jason Peck is the program director at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers collaborative prevention programs and services to tackle three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including: substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion, and academic achievement. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.