Abby has always felt passionately that all people should have independence. Growing up in a small Catholic elementary school in a diverse neighborhood, she always embraced the expectation of serving her community. It was in high school that she became truly inspired to give others the same freedoms she has always enjoyed when she became involved in efforts against modern slavery and in working with individuals with disabilities.
While still in elementary school, Abby attended an event about modern slavery orchestrated by a group at her church called Unbound. The injustices she saw at the event inspired her to join the group in high school. With Unbound, Abby helped to raise awareness about human trafficking in agriculture and Fair Trade alternatives through letter writing campaigns in her community. She also joined the social justice club in her high school, in which she became a leader of Fair Trade and human trafficking initiatives. She promoted the use of Fair Trade clothing for sports teams’ spirit wear and a week of events to educate her fellow students about human trafficking within the United States. She hopes her efforts will help to create a ripple effect that spreads awareness about this issue.
As Abby became involved in social justice in her high school, she also began volunteering at a summer camp for individuals with developmental disabilities near her home called Stepping Stones. She fell in love with the campers there and the opportunities the camp gave them. After two years of volunteering at the summer day camp as well as at Saturday Kids’ Clubs during the school year, she became a full-time counselor for a group of 8-12 year-olds with autism during the summer before her senior year and then again this past summer. As a counselor, Abby was able to form close relationships with her campers and see them grow in their ability to participate in camp activities. Abby enjoys helping the children she works with to discover the areas in which they can be independent and encouraging them in those areas. This experience taught her that when gifts and interests are recognized in any person, that person can have success, despite previous expectations.
Abby is so grateful to have been given the opportunity to become a part of the Ingram Scholars community. She plans to continue her work against human trafficking and with children with disabilities while at Vanderbilt. She is also excited to learn about the types of service other students are involved in and to expand her own service into the city of Nashville.