Palmyra junior awarded $20,000 scholarship for community service role

Widener University awarded Angelica Johnson with a scholarship for her participation in Interact Club.

Volunteering isn’t just an extracurricular activity for Angelica Johnson, it’s a way of life.

The Palmyra High School junior is heavily involved with the school’s Interact Club, a service-based club that aims to better the community. Johnson was recently awarded a $20,000 scholarship from Widener University for her work with Interact Club.

Interact Club holds fundraisers and events for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Palmyra festival and more.

“The mission of the Interact Club is for young adults to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of service above self,” guidance counselor Lauren Schmidt, who nominated Johnson for the scholarship, said.

“Service above self” is Interact Club’s motto, which club advisor Lorita Foster says really reflects what Interact Club is all about.

“It gives them another perspective and it gives them something positive to do to fill their day,” Foster said. “[They get] a sense of seeing that there’s a world outside of themselves and that life is good and happy and you’re blessed when you bless others.”

Johnson says being involved with Interact is a prime reason for her sense of happiness.

“Interact can help people see that volunteering is really fun and helpful to everyone,” Johnson said.

This is Johnson’s third year with the club, and this year, she was elected secretary. She hopes to be president of Interact for her senior year.

Schmidt also nominated Johnson for Girls State, an educational workshop that focuses on leadership in government. In June, Johnson will head to Lakewood to join girls across the state for the five-day seminar.

“Girls from each school in their junior year are picked to go to because of their leadership, scholastic achievement and accomplishments,” Johnson said. “We develop leadership skills that last a lifetime and new perspectives on government.”

Last year, Johnson was chosen to represent Palmyra at the HOBY Leadership Conference. HOBY’s mission is to “inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.”

When Johnson isn’t busy attending conferences or visiting the residents of assisted living facility Riverview Estates, she’s practicing her listening skills — Johnson is an intern for 7 Cups of Tea, an emotional health and well-being service that connects those in need with real listeners anonymously. Instead of trying to solve problems or give advice, 7 Cups listeners do just that — listen. Johnson has dropped a few of her extracurriculars to make time for 7 Cups, but she says it’s worth it.

“Helping people is one of the things I love to do,” Johnson said. “You help people with mental issues, and you help each other.”

Throughout her high school career, Johnson has been involved with Student Council, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, cheerleading, tennis and marching band. She also carries a heavy course load of AP and honors classes and ranks in the top 10 percent of her class.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Palmyra High School Interact Club participated in Project Linus for the first time — thanks to Johnson, who learned about Project Linus, an organization that provides handmade blankets for critically ill children, at the HOBY Leadership Conference, and suggested to her Interact advisor that the club join.

“It was really cool. A lot of people showed up, and we made more blankets than we thought we were going to make,” Johnson said. “I was really happy everyone liked it.”

Johnson wants to be a psychiatrist and plans to study psychology in her undergraduate years before heading to med school to continue with her passion for helping others.

“Whenever I help people, I just get this really good feeling,” Johnson said. “It just feels really nice for people to appreciate what you do.”