Spotlight on Manoela Dos Santos

Spotlight on Manoela Dos Santos
$1000 LWRWC 2020 Community Service Scholarship Winner

According to LWRWC Scholarship Chair, Pam Szabo, “On behalf of the Scholarship Committee, It is our pleasure to award the 2020 LWR Women’s Club Scholarship to Manoela Dos Santos. Manoela has distinguished herself as both a scholar and dedicated community and school volunteer.” Manoela is currently the President of Lakewood Leaders, a group which serves the school and community. Other School activities include National Honor Society (Parliamentarian), Blood Drive, and Project Manatee. Manoela also volunteers in the community at Nathan Benderson Park. She has worked during various rowing events, and as a Rowing Camp Counselor. In addition, Manoela takes part in UNIDOS Now Future Academy, a college prep program for first generation Hispanic students.” Manoela has committed to attend Emory University in the fall.

Interview with Manoela

Q: What inspired your passion for community service?
A: I have always had people in my life that dedicated their time to helping me. Teachers, club sponsors, and advisors from community programs, such as Take Stock in Children, have reached out to me and mentored me in some way. When I entered high school, I knew I had to pay it forward by doing my part in volunteering in the community. By participating in service projects, I have been able to gain valuable experience and learn new skills, connect with interesting and inspiring people, and most importantly I have been able to be a part of something bigger than myself.

Q: What was your most rewarding community service activity?
A: For the past four years I have been able to travel to a Title I Elementary School, where the majority of the students come from lower-income backgrounds, during the holiday season. With my club, Lakewood Leaders, I was able to spend an afternoon with the Kindergarteners and make their Christmas a little brighter. When we arrived at the school, we had many activities planned for the little ones. One group of volunteers were responsible for manning a cookie station. Other volunteers played freeze tag and read holiday books with the students. But the most touching moment of the trip was giving each student their own gift bag containing a coloring book, crayons, socks, toothbrush/toothpaste, tattoos, and various toys. This small act left all the five-year old children grinning from ear to ear. This humbling experience will be one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Q: In addition to your dedication to community service, what are your other favorite extracurricular activities?
A: For the past five years I have rowed for the Manatee County Youth Rowing program. This sport has helped me grow as both an athlete and person. When I started out, I expected myself to show up to practice every day, to sit in a boat, and move a paddle with the intention of having a fast boat. But in reality, when I picked up my handle, I become one with the boat and one with my team. The strangers sitting in the bow and stern became my family. Rowing turned into passion, one that did not diminish with time but continued to grow each day. I hope that I can continue to foster my passion for rowing as I transition to college next year.

Q: What are your college plans and short-term goals after you graduate from LWR High School?
A: I plan to attend Emory University and obtain a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. During my time at Emory I am excited to take advantage of the endless research opportunities offered on campus. I also hope to study abroad for a period of time to gain a greater understanding of the world. During the summers I plan to come back home and spend my time volunteering as a camp counselor for my team’s rowing camp.