Hunter Mullis, 15, a sophomore at Lincoln Charter High School, has been keeping her calendar full this school year. She was accepted into the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) September of last year and has been busy prepping for one of the groupâ€™s biggest events of the year, the National Service-Learning Conference on April 11.
The YAC is a group of community service leaders, ages 14 to 21, who are active in both their communities and in their schools. The group focuses on two primary goals — promoting youth leadership and service-learning, and addressing the achievement gap, an issue that focuses on discovering what factors separate graduates from non-graduates based on financial status and race.
Prior to becoming a YAC member, those interested must be nominated to attend a seven-day National Youth Leadership training camp. Lincoln Charter Development Director Melissa Lasarsky and Dean of Students and Athletic Director Jonathan Bryant chose Mullis for the camp in July.
“We chose Hunter because sheâ€™s quality,” Bryant said. “Sheâ€™s very well-rounded, academically solid and a natural born leader with a great attitude; an obvious choice.”
The camp focused on team building and teaching the campers how to be leaders, starting with an outdoor immersion activity.
“When we first got there, we had to spend 24 hours outside,” Mullis said. “It was a great experience though; we became great friends almost right away after that.”
During her seven days, she also participated in activities that helped the youth establish their positions in teams and the roles they play. The skills she learned helped boost her confidence and the way she thinks about herself and things she can accomplish.
“I used to be really shy growing up,” Mullis said. “I was more of a silent leader, but I learned that itâ€™s alright to be a follower sometimes. Sometimes you have to follow in order to become a good leader.”
After her experiences at camp, she began opening up more and viewing things in a different way, she said.
After being accepted into the group she started working with a mentor. Mullis and another Hunter (Baker) were the only two students chosen from the school last year.
Aside from her newest position as a member on the YACâ€™s Conference and Events Committee, she is the secretary of student government, a member of the Leadership Institute, Interact Club and plays volleyball.
The Leadership Institute and Interact Club are also organizations who focus on community involvement and getting students to go out into the communities and work with people.
Last year, the Leadership Institute, a two-year organization, spread outside of the North Carolina borders and worked with low-income children in the Washington, D.C., area. They also were part of a statewide training program where 130 high school students and their mentors were trained in leadership and service-learning.
This year, Mullis has her eyes set on next monthâ€™s conference, which brings together youth from across the country and will have guest speakers, such as educator Geoffrey Canada who was featured in the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”
Lincoln Charter students are going on their fourth year of attending the conference and practice community work throughout the school year as well.
The students are required to follow the learn, serve and engage mantra, which requires each grade level to complete a certain amount of community service, Bryant said.
Over the summer, Mullis will be interning for a week with the National Youth Leadership Council, the group who puts together the events that the YAC members attend; an opportunity that she hopes will seal the deal with what she wants to do in the future.
“I used to think I wanted to be a doctor,” Mullis said. “But after these experiences, I developed a real passion for service; I learned I can really make a difference in the world.”