Helping others makes Tigard student happy
Abby Lam would like to clear up one thing. She isn't involved in multiple school clubs, organizations and activities just to make herself look good on a college application.
No, she says, it's because she's truly interested in everything she puts her heart and soul into.
"Some people think it's for the college portfolio, but all the things I do, I'm passionate about," she says.
And to that end, she is involved in groups that help the community or individuals.
This year, she's co-president of the Key Club, a Tigard High School service club involved in everything from shelving library books to helping out with Special Olympics.
The group held a Sustaining Oregon's Legacy by Volunteering (SOLVE, formerly SOLV) beach cleanup in Astoria in September, taking 50 people to the coastal town to clean up along the sea wall.
"It was great," says Abby, who has been a member of the service organization since her freshmen year. "People were coming up to us and saying 'thank you so much.'"
During her high school career, Abby has been active in the Tigard Sparrow Club as well, serving this year as its president.
The organization, which provides financial and emotional support for young people with medical needs, held a kick-off assembly in February to announce this year's recipient — Jakob Witczak, a Corbett High School senior who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
The club, along with the help of Tigard's Black Rock Coffee, is raising funds for Jakob, who is still recovering from surgery.
"The goal of Sparrow Club is to support the family," Abby says. "I think that's the most important thing."
She says it's important for people going through cancer treatment to have people behind them and supporting them.
At the same time, Abby serves as president of the Tigard High School Science National Honor Society.
"The goal of the club is to basically help the school district in spreading science and teaching kids about science," she says. "So we help with a lot of science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) events."
Abby said it was those STEM nights at her elementary school that inspired her and got her interested in the hard sciences (noting that one of her favorite activities was constructing DNA models out of toothpicks and marshmallows).
Next year, Abby plans to attend Oregon State University's Honors College, majoring in chemical engineering or computer science.
Meanwhile, she still is in a celebratory mode as a member of the Tigerettes Varsity Dance Team, which recently completed a championship season.
"We just won state," Abby says. "It's so crazy; it's unreal."
Like many successful students, Abby gives credit to her family for much of her success, saying her parents are her support system.
She says her older sister, Amanda, 21, who was editor-in-chief of the THS newspaper, has been a huge influence in her life as well.
It was friends of Amanda's who recruited Abby to shoot graduation photos her freshmen year, which led to her getting involved with the school's yearbook. By her junior year she was not only photo editor, but wrote stories and designed pages as well, earning her two Northwest Scholastic Press Student Media Olympics awards for her efforts. This year, Abby is editor-in-chief of the Tigard High yearbook.
Abby often is asked why she's involved in so many extracurricular activities.
Her response is simple: "I love learning," she says. "I love being in classes and learning new things."
Whatever career path she chooses, Abby says she wants to make sure the focus isn't necessarily on her but on helping others.
"I want to continue to do service and helping out the community," she says.
All of those selected as Amazing Kids were honored during a special presentation at OMSI set for April 28. All Amazing Kids will be highlighted in a special magazine inserted into the The Times, covering Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, in the May 3 edition.