Smyrna High junior lauded for leadership

Smyrna High School junior Mia Davis, center, receives her Widener University High School Leadership Award at a ceremony on March 28 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. She is joined by Julie Wollman, left, president of Widener University, and Brittney Shipp, Philadelphia’s NBC10 meteorologist and the ceremony’s host. (Submitted photo)

SMYRNA — Mia Davis has always had a passion for helping others.

The 17-year-old junior is a part of many organizations at Smyrna High School, including the Smyrna Youth Leadership Organization and being president of HOSA: Future Health Professionals.

But one of her main passions is being part of the school’s Mental Health Club.

For her involvement in the club, she was recently recognized as a winner of the Widener University High School Leadership Awards for outstanding leadership and civic contributions.

“I had no idea I was going to win,” Mia said. “I was surprised and taken back. But it made me realize how grateful I am for everything that I have and for all the things that I do in the community here at Smyrna High School. It also made me appreciate all of the people that have influenced my life leading up to this moment.”

Widener University’s leadership program aims to inspire and prepare students to become strategic leaders and responsible citizens.

In its eighth year, the program recognized 163 students from high schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware who demonstrated courage and leadership within their communities. The winners were invited to a celebratory program at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in March.

The Mental Health Club addresses issues regarding suicide prevention and depression within the school community.

“During my freshman year, my sister tried to commit suicide,” Mia said.

“That impacted my whole family and world. One of my teachers nominated me to speak at the University of Delaware for a leadership conference about it during my sophomore year. When I spoke, I think I did a great job and after that one of my teachers got me involved with the organization.”

The Mental Health Club meets once a month and she says it’s been a great place for students to discuss problems they may be dealing with.

“It’s a safe place for students to talk about what affects them,” Mia said.

“We have a lot of events that have been very therapeutic for the students who are involved. We have speakers that come in as well and we have a topic that we talk about each month.”

Students were selected for their abilities to stand up for what is right, address a wrong and make a difference in their communities or schools.

Mia said she still doesn’t know who nominated her.

“I was surprised that I was even nominated,” Mia said. “I had no idea about it. My counselor called me down and told me about it. I was surprised and I wasn’t expecting it as a junior. I’m not sure who nominated me.”

But when she attended the event she felt like she belonged.

Mia joined 163 students from high schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware who demonstrated courage and leadership within their communities. The program is in its eighth year.

“I think I was the only one there from Smyrna,” Mia said. “There were very few people from Delaware so it was cool to see other students from different states on how they impacted their schools and communities. I just felt really special being a part of that.”

She was once again surprised when she was announced as one of the winners.

“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Mia said. “But I felt satisfaction because it showed that I actually helped people and I had an influence.”

Stacy Cook, who is the principal of Smyrna High School, said no one deserves the award more than Mia.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Mia for many years even before she came here as a student at Smyrna High School,” Ms. Cook said.

“She has always exhibited leadership abilities as well as a true heart for caring for other people and I think you see that here with everything she does here at the high school.”

“The award is just an acknowledgment of that,” she added. “She’s always looking for ways to help other people. It’s nice to see that acknowledged.”

High School Leadership Award winners who choose to enroll at Widener are named Apogee Scholars and will receive a $20,000 scholarship over four years.

As an Apogee Scholar, students will participate in a leadership development program at the school’s Oskin Leadership Institute, which will include earning a Widener Leadership Certificate and participating in a variety of on-campus leadership development activities.

Mia said she hasn’t decided if she will attend Widener, but she knows for certain that she’ll continue to help others for a lifetime.

“I know what I want to do as a career and I’m working towards that,” Mia said.

“I want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon or a physician in the ER. So hopefully I can keep helping people in the future.”

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