Amy Swanton believes anything is possible if you work hard enough.
“I really feel I can take on anything,” said the Aspengrove School graduate. “Sometimes I work a little too hard.”
She decided to take on three advanced placement courses this year – studio art, English and calculus – and challenged the physics AP course. Advanced placement courses, considered to be the equivalent of first-year university courses, end with an exam that can earn students university credits.
“The science and math I really enjoy, but I also like the arts,” said Swanton. “It’s a few hours a day where I can sit down and have a break from my heavy course load.”
She wants to become a website developer, a job that utilizes her scientific, technological side as well as her creative side. In her spare time, she wants to travel to developing nations on volunteer missions – an important goal ever since a life-changing trip to China two years ago.
Swanton and 11 of her classmates went on the trip, which was organized by teachers through the Me to We organization, a global network of children helping children.
The students hand-dug the foundation for an addition to a small school in a rural village in Sichuan province. Each day, they walked up a long hill into the village because the road was too rough for travel by vehicle.
The students were amazed at the way the villagers lived without electricity or running water, but Swanton found that if she set aside her Western prejudices, she saw residents as people who cherished the little things in life and helped each other out.
The looks on the faces of the children who would benefit kept her going when she was tired.
“The happiest I’ve ever been is making a difference in other people’s lives,” said Swanton. “I find it so satisfying.”
She’s made a big difference in her own community as well.
In her last years of high school, Swanton has volunteered at the SPCA, collected donations during the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle campaign, raised money to put on a graduation celebration for her peers and organized school events through student council.
Swanton also helped organize fundraisers for local charities through the school’s Me to We Club, which the students formed after their China trip.
To fit some exercise into her busy days, Swanton and her mother, a teaching assistant at Aspengrove, bike to school each day.
“It’s nice to spend that extra bit of time together,” she said.
Swanton enters the computer science program at VIU this fall with the help of a full-ride scholarship.