SOW: Megan Shahnooshi December 22, 2008

Central High senior gives helping hand to less fortunate

Megan Shahnooshi is on the executive committee of P.A.C.T. (Perceptions Actively Changed by Teens), a two day leadership conference for middle school students. As part of her service learning coursework, she’s planning the upcoming eighth annual conference during an independent study project.

Megan Shahnooshi defines herself by what she does for others.

“Megan’s heart is one for all of us to model ours after,” said Brandon Milholland, one of Shahnooshi’s teachers at Central High School.

The 18-year-old senior has helped more than 600 middle school students in service learning projects through her continued involvement in Perceptions Actively Changed by Teens, a two-day conference for middle school students with guest speakers and volunteer projects.

Shahnooshi attended the conference while in middle school and now organizes it as a high school student.

“I felt the impact of it and wanted others to experience that,” she said.

Shahnooshi, a skier since first grade, also works with special-needs students as part of Colorado Discover Ability and takes them on ski trips several times during the season.

One girl from the group, who is autistic and has Down syndrome, was very shy, Shahnooshi said, and only skied with one person.

Since joining Shahnooshi’s group, the girl has become more outgoing and skis often with Shahnooshi, she said.

“She has really opened up,” she said. “It’s really cool to see her grow as a person.”

Through her service learning class at Central High, Shahnooshi has managed in two years to participate in several canned food and clothing drives for the hungry and the homeless and hand-made 30 baby blankets that were handed out to pregnant moms.

That’s not even a complete list of Shahnooshi’s activities, but what’s more impressive is that she finds time for a life outside of volunteering.

“I enjoy it,” Shahnooshi said of her volunteerism. “My sister is probably the biggest reason I’m as involved as I am.”

Shahnooshi said her younger sister is a special-needs child with Colorado Discover Ability and was her reason for wanting to volunteer with the group.

Graduating from high school will not be the end of Shahnooshi’s commitment to help others.

Shahnooshi said she plans to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder and pursue a career in medicine.

Her mother is a physical therapist, and her father is an X-ray technician. They inspired her to follow a similar path.

“I hope that with my service that I’m reaching out to other people,” Shahnooshi said.

“I love seeing smiles on their faces.”

GPA: 3.7

Parents: Trudi and Reza

Preferred college: University of Colorado, Boulder

Where she sees herself in 5 years: Finishing college or studying abroad

Favorite music: Rascal Flatts

Favorite TV show: Oprah

Personal hero: Mom and dad

Why? “They’ve taught me everything I know and provided me with everything I know,” she said.

I’m most proud of: Every time I travel


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