Just as a high school student can excel in academics, the arts, or sports, so can a high school student excel in service to others, leadership, and a desire to make a difference for our world.
The Rotary Club of Coronado is honored to present Coronado High School senior Olivia Zaller with its 2017 Peacemaker Award. The Peacemaker Award is designed to recognize individuals who are making a difference in promoting understanding, tolerance, and conflict resolution, and helping build goodwill and peace.
Olivia has demonstrated an impressive commitment and determination to do what she can to make the world a better place. She has acquired valuable experience and knowledge in youth leadership, journalism, and civic and global affairs. She has become an outstanding role model for a generation often underestimated by its elders, a generation of young people who could have a significant positive impact on the future.
During Olivia’s speech as the October 2016 Student Rotarian of the Month, she answered the question, “Who Am I?” by saying, “The qualities of service to others, integrity, goodwill and peace through fellowship, embodied in Rotary International’s mission statement, have become central to my own identity throughout my time at Coronado High School.”
Through Olivia’s leadership, passion and vision she encourages her peers to give service to others. As co-president of Coronado High School’s Interact Club, Olivia organizes community and international service projects for student volunteers where they can participate with others in experiences that promote understanding of cultures and circumstances unlike their own. Olivia has organized day-long service missions to the Corazon de Vida orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico where Interact members fully-funded and painted (with donations from Coronado residents and the business community) several rooms including the nursery.
Other service projects included sorting Christmas toys at the Ronald McDonald House, helping at the Toys for Joy event which provides toys and clothing to 25,000 underprivileged families in San Diego, and participating in Rotary’s Coronado beach clean-ups each month. This semester Olivia changed things a bit by delegating projects to her six officers who will have the opportunity to expand their leadership skills by organizing and following through on additional service projects. Olivia has increased the membership of the Interact Club from 15 to over 140 Coronado High School members.
Some of Olivia’s other experiences include:
Internship and Editor-in Chief for WorldLink San Diego:
WorldLink is a practice-based program of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego that connects high-school aged youth from Southern California and Baja Mexico to global issues, such as access to quality education, the alleviation of global poverty, and the universal recognition of human rights.
The culmination of Olivia’s internship was WorldLink’s annual Youth Town Meeting, which brings together more than 800 high school students and 30 international leaders and experts in global affairs to discuss a specific student-selected theme. As the 2016 editor-in-chief of WorldLink’s bilingual Newspaper, Olivia managed a team of 50 journalists and photographers to document the event. The newspaper details the 19th Annual Youth Town Meeting where this year’s theme was, “Youth’s Influence on the World: For Better or Worse.”
In her editorial letter for the WorldLink Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego youth program, Olivia wrote:
“I have come to live by the principle, ‘the worst thing we can do is nothing.’ I wholeheartedly believe that one is never too young to be a change maker. Although at times we may feel powerless, we must always remember that together anything can be accomplished. Even when potential impact seems minimal, making the difference in the life of one person is much better than doing nothing at all. We are all capable of achieving change so far beyond the scope of our imaginations, making an impact not just in our communities but also on a global scale.”
Service Project and Project Manager in Dominican Republic:
During Olivia’s freshman year she participated in a three-week service project in the Dominican Republic. The organizer of the trip, a nonprofit called 7Elements, offered Olivia the opportunity to return the following summer if she could create, fund, and manage a service project. She chose reforestation of sustainable crops that could be sold by local farmers as her project and met all the challenges involved (the trees continue to grow into a salable commodity). The project included building a makeshift greenhouse and automated irrigation system. Olivia and her team helped the locals plant a cacao crop from which they hope to harvest and sell cacao to raise $100,000 for the community in the future. The project inspired Olivia to look toward her community and internationally to continue to make a difference.
Rotary International Youth Exchange Student:
Olivia was selected for cultural exchange in Turkey where she stayed with a host family, visited historical sites, and completed an urban renewal project. This past summer, she acted as the local lead student-host for the International Rotary Exchange Students who visited Coronado, including having three European students stay with her family.
Student Board Member, Coronado Schools Foundation (CSF):
Olivia serves as an advocate for student issues. She represents Coronado’s students as their representative on the Coronado Schools Foundation board. Olivia conceptualized a new marketing/re-branding strategy that was central to the recently adopted CSF mission statement and new logo branding.