This week’s Life in the Spotlight, Julia Rohde, is a key part of the Ideas In Motion Media coverage team and our #1StudentNWI leader. Additionally, she’s also involved with her school’s UNICEF club, the Earth Awareness club, Pendulum club, and Educational Helpers, among other organizations and after-school projects.
On top of all that, Rohde also managed to take enough credits to soon graduate from Valparaiso High School early. Not so she can take a break from her tireless schedule, but so that she can travel to Ghana and help make a difference in the lives of Civil Rights Activists and those suffering from HIV.
While this may seem like too much for an adult, let alone someone who hasn’t even graduated high school, Rohde says that’s just who she is. And it’s this relentlessly driven part of her personality that has allowed her to make such a tremendous impact on not only the Valpo community, but soon the world as well.
This drive to help others comes from a surprising source, her years running track where an injury led her to examine her true purpose in life.
“Freshman and Sophomore years of high school I was involved with track, and that took a lot of time out of my day,” Rohde told IIMM. “The first year I fractured my foot, and it was tough that I had been working and training for something for so long and just could not do it.”
So Rohde took the time to evaluate her next moves in life.
“I loved track a lot, but I didn’t have that tremendous passion for it like my other teammates,” added Rohde. “So I decided to devote my time to clubs and organizations, and I found that the work ethic I had gained through sports helped me stay busy with all the things I was doing.”
One of those clubs was the formation of Valpo’s UNICEF club, an opportunity that took her to Washington D.C. over the summer. And while the club has been ultimately satisfying, she was not without her inhibitions when she first began dedicating her life to helping others.
“Helping others, especially with UNICEF, can sometimes feel like the problems you are battling are so great that you won’t make a difference,” said Rohde. “That is something I had to cope with over time, and realize that while we can’t help every person, there are always kids we can help.”
And this notion that doing what you can to help impact even one person makes a difference is true even here in her hometown of Valparaiso, adds Rohde. Especially in the case of Educational Helpers, where Rohde says watching the difference it makes on kids showed her what she wanted to do in the future.
“I started with Educational Helpers with my friend from soccer to help kids get the school supplies they need,” said Rohde. “Watching how happy these kids were walking the aisles and picking out their own supplies made me realize that I definitely want to work with, and empower, kids.”
Where Rohde’s future will lead is still up-in-the-air, but that’s not as significant as the what at this time; all that really matters she says is that she’s someday helping kids.
Well, helping kids, and making sure she is back from Africa in time to walk across the aisle next spring with her fellow VHS students, Rohde says.
“Because my mom says she ‘absolutely has to’ see me in my cap and gown.”