Sarah Cole, 2009 Young Woman of Achievement
Sarah Cole, a 2009 Young Woman of Achievement, has a passion for helping other youth overcome barriers such as ethnic background or economic status. “Everyone is facing a battle,” she says, “whether it is race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic backgrounds, physical capabilities, or even parental status.”
Sarah, who lives in Vancouver, attends Battle Ground High School and takes classes at Clark College through the Running Start Program. She plans to major in cultural anthropology at a four-year university, which she will attend beginning in fall 2009.
Sarah has been involved with the Clark County Youth Commission since 2005.
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For her, it has been “one of the most challenging, thought-provoking, and character-shaping growth opportunities of my entire high school experience.” As a member of the commission, she has done research on issues such as sustainability, planned events, and represented the youth voice to the board of county commissioners.
Perhaps most importantly, serving on the youth commission has given Sarah a chance to do more on one of the issues that is most important to her, diversity. She is doing a year-long research project about diversity with the youth commission.
She has also been involved with her high school’s Diversity Club and Peace Club, attended diversity seminars, and represented the youth commission at the NAACP Banquet.
Her advisor on the commission, Elizabeth Hill, wrote, “Sarah is a rare leader, combining organizational genius with the skills to mobilize, motivate and build relationships with all kinds of people…she is one of the most effective and inspirational leaders I have met in 15 years working with youth leadership.”
Sarah is also making a difference through tutoring middle school students through the AVID program. The program’s goal is to prepare students whose families have not attended college to be successful and continue their education. Sarah’s mother is a principal at Fort Vancouver High School, and Sarah says that she wants to help other students have the same educational opportunities that she has had.
Sarah credits her family, especially her mother, with inspiring her. Her mother raised two children on her own while being successful in her career. “My mother has taught me the value of independence and self-reliance,” says Sarah. “More than that, she has taught me that even more important than self-sustainability is the concept of giving back to others in your community.”
Other activities that Sarah has been involved in include the National Honor Society, the Associated Student Body, Stripes Mentoring Program, soccer, and a job as a supervisor at Jamba Juice. As her teacher and coach John Klaus wrote, “Sarah has found the time to fully dedicate herself to her community.”