Michelle D’Souza Edition
The 2012 Leaders of Tomorrow Award winner in the junior high category: Michelle D’Souza is sweetness personified. She volunteers because she has always felt the drive to make a difference in her community, but it is also her parents that keep her going.
“I’ve always had the force for volunteering, but after being at the Leadership Awards with my parents, they were so proud of me and couldn’t stop smiling,” D’Souza remembers. “It just keeps me volunteering everyday, because I knew how incredibly proud it made them.”
Since the Leadership Awards, D’Souza continues to volunteer at her church and as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters through her school. She is really enthusiastic when she talks about how important being a mentor is to her, and how much fulfillment she gets from mentoring the youths.
“Last year I got paired up with such an amazing kid. I just wanted to keep going with that just because they are such good kids,” says 15 year-old D’Souza. “Just to have that hour a day each week makes me really happy knowing that they can enjoy an hour a week, where they can just have fun.”
And fun is what D’Souza and her mentee have. They do everything from Easter egg hunts and painting in the art room, to decorating cookies and using the school computers, D’Souza and her mentee take full advantage of everything that the school has to offer.
Being the youngest person in her family, even younger than her cousins, helps D’Souza remain a positive role model for her mentees. “I’ve always wanted to have a younger buddy because I am the youngest in my family. I’ve always just wanted to have someone look up to me, because I have never had that,” D’Souza explains through a giggle.
At the 2012 Leadership Awards, then 14 year-old D’Souza found inspiration among her supporters and fellow winners.
“All the sponsors from Encana, they were so sweet and so supportive. The Leader of Tomorrow from the elementary division [Riley Beatty] raised a lot of money for diabetes, which is really cool, because my dad had diabetes. It was really cool how he got involved like that,” says D’Souza. “It was one of the best experiences I have ever had.”
In the future D’Souza plans to dig deeper into the world of volunteering, but at the tender age of 15, not many programs can engage her services.
“After the Leadership Awards, a lot of people came up to me and asked me how old I was to see if I could volunteer with them; and I was too young, but when I am older I will probably try to go an volunteer with those organizations. I feel like I want to get even more involved after that ceremony, because I saw how many different people get involved, and how many things they do.”
Want to look back at Michelle’s Leadership Awards video? You’re in luck! You can watch it below.