Annika Szarka is excited to pull people together.
“It (is exciting) for me to see people coming together for something bigger than themselves. This is what drove me to continue volunteering,” explained the 17-year-old.
“Whether it’s school or community based, volunteering gives me the opportunity to give back in a positive way.”
Szarka — a Grade 12 student at Langley Fine Arts — was a nominee for the Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award, which is presented to a Grade 11 or 12 Langley student to recognize athletic achievements, scholastic effort, community involvement and personal qualities.
The award is presented in memory of Pete Swensson, an internationally recognized athlete and the originator of the Langley Walk, and this year’s recipient was Langley Fundamental’s Laura Stead.
Szarka is the co-president of her school’s Pa-Moja Club, a group supporting a charitable organization which partners with schools in Kenya to provide long-term solutions to poverty through education.
Szarka is also heavily involved in her own community as both a certified lifeguard and swimming instructor as well as a high-ranking competitive Highland and contemporary dancer, and will head to Scotland this summer to compete in the world championships. She also teaches young dancers.
At school, Szarka serves on both the grad and student councils and is a member of the Green Team, an environmental club.
All of this is done while maintaining an ‘A’ average through high school.
“In order to balance my school, volunteerism, and athletic endeavors, I have to use smart and efficient time management skills. Utilizing my time effectively is a key factor towards completing all my goals,” she explained.
“Being able to develop these skills will be extremely beneficial throughout my post-secondary time, and beyond.
Szarka plans on studying kinesiology at UBC before pursuing a career in the medical field or physiotherapy.