There comes a time in the life of most of the terrifically successful when they're compelled to take account of their blessings, weigh the gulf between what they have and what, if things had broken just a bit differently, they might have had, and recognize their good fortune. Humbled, many of these great men and women decide to give something back.
Annie Rubino had a moment like this when she was 15.
“I realized after freshman year how much this school has given to me and that I wanted to give back in a way. I just realized I’m blessed to live here and I wanted to reach out to others and make a difference,” the Phoenixville Area High School senior explained earlier this week from a small conference room in the office of the school she loves.
“I changed my outlook on how I wanted my high school experience to be.”
The epiphany launched Rubino, who also plays guard for the girls basketball team and mans midfield for lacrosse, into a veritable whirlwind of involvement. A purple one.
What Annie Does Now
Before her junior year she won a seat on the school board as student representative (a post she holds this year as well) and became the PASD liaison to Activate Phoenixville; a community wellness organization that promotes healthier living in the area. She grew so fond of the latter group, and became such a believer in its mission—she cited the Girls on the Run program it operates in symphony with the YMCA and the Phantom Phitness Club for Barkley Elementary students as particular favorites—that she started a branch of Activate at the high school.
“We raise money for Activate Phoenixville, do some of our own events” and help kids lay groundwork for careers in healthcare, Rubino explained.
It’s programs like Activate that, for her, underscore the value of the school board post. She views her place on the body as an ideal platform for sharing with the community all the many ambitious and altruistic activities PASD students are involved in. In other words, it's a place where the jock can be a cheerleader.
“There are so many little clubs here and there, and sports teams, and theater programs that not everybody knows about,” Rubino explained. “And to be able to get that out to the community makes me so proud. It’s built up our reputation and spirit within the school.”
What She'll Do Next
The second child of three (Rubino's brother is a sophomore at James Madison, her sister an eighth grader at the middle school) is set to graduate in the spring and is still weighing college options. She's narrowed the field to Catholic University, Delaware, Elon, and Wake Forrest; at one of which she plans, tentatively, to pursue studies in psychology or health sciences.
Wherever she ends up though, she plans to continue her commitment to service.
"I really want a place where I can get involved in the community,” she said, adding that, with the help of her guidance counselor, she's actively honing in on schools where she'll have a real opportunity to contribute.
While most seniors are looking for the college that can offer them the most, Rubino has it perfectly backwards. It's nice, isn't it?