Giving back to her community comes second nature to Natalie Girman, this week’s Life in the Spotlight. Perhaps that is due to her belief in the mantra “God comes first, others come second, I come third,” one she learned in childhood at Camp Tecumseh. Regardless of where Natalie’s inspiration to give back stems from, this Valparaiso native’s passion for community involvement is nearly palpable through her ardent expression of the work she has done and the activities in which she participates.
Attending Valparaiso High School, Natalie was very involved. She was the president of the Spanish Club, the basketball team’s manager, involved in choir and 4-H, and a member of both the NHS and the softball team.
Now in college, Natalie attends Butler University and is in her junior year working to graduate with a major in speech pathology and a Spanish minor. Her love of the school is obvious, as she lit up speaking about her time spent there.
“I could talk about Butler way longer than I probably should,” she stated, mentioning their wonderful volunteer center, small and personal classes, and overall welcoming atmosphere. While at school, Natalie is a member of their professional fraternity, plays intramural volleyball, and participates in volunteer work for St. Jude.
Community involvement and hard work don’t come to a halt during the summer for this young woman, though. When not in school, Natalie nannies one day a week and works with the company Moving Places Move Management, running estate sales. As the fair is Natalie’s favorite part of summer, it is fitting that she also continues in working with the Porter County Fair post 4-H. A member of the junior fair board, she helps to plan events and activities for each year’s fair.
Through her work with the Porter County Fair over the years, Natalie has had the chance to experience the fair in a way not everyone does, taking part in the planning and inner workings of the events. This past fair, however, she was given the honor to experience the fair on a whole new level as she was crowned Porter County Fair Queen 2015.
Her crowning came as “a complete shock,” Natalie explained. “I’ve never been a pageant girl.”
With help from fellow contestants and support from her sponsor, The Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club, Natalie was endlessly grateful for the honor and spoke of how fun and enlightening it was to experience the Porter County Fair as Queen.
“You see the fair in a different way working on the fair board. As Queen it’s a whole new experience. You spend the entire day at the fair. You are the face of the fair.” As Queen, Natalie created memories that will last her a lifetime and made plenty of new friends.
With so much going on in her life and all of the success she’s seen thus far, Natalie finds her strength through her family and attributes her successes to their support.
“I grew up in a really great family. My parents taught me to always do what’s right and to follow my dreams.”
Though college is stressful, realizing that what you go to school for is, as Natalie puts it, “Holy cow this is what I’m gonna do for the rest of my life.”
Her parents have been nothing but supportive. Natalie has found that she has reached a point in maturity where her parents have become not only her guides and teachers but her friends in life as well.
Alongside her parents, Natalie also finds support in her church, where her uncle is the minister.
“Having those two relationships with one person – both uncle and minister – is so awesome,” she smiled. “The church itself is my family, too. They’re all just so supportive.”
While familial support spurs her forward, Natalie could not have accomplished anything in life if not for her own drive for community involvement.
To others looking to become involved she urges, “Go to your schools, get involved in clubs where you’ll gain friends. There you’ll find other opportunities through word of mouth.”
Among other options she listed were opportunities to become involved through the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Valpo Noon Kiwanis, and church youth groups.
“Valparaiso just offers so much,” she stressed.
In the future, Natalie plans on attending two years of grad school in order to become a speech pathologist working in the rehabilitation field. Above all, though, Natalie plans on continuing to be very actively involved in her community.