Mina Work, a 2017 graduate of Southern High School, was recently named a recipient of the 2016-2017 Maryland Governor’s Service Award for Exemplary Service Learning.
The Maryland Governor’s Service Awards have several categories and are open to all state residents. Mina was selected for the award for her outstanding commitment and advocacy for Lyme disease Awareness throughout the South County community, including organizing a community panel and establishing partnerships with Anne Arundel Medical Center and Deale Public Library. She was nominated by the Southern High School Design Preservation and Innovation Signature Program and the AACPS Office of Service Learning
Mina and the other Governor’s Service Award recipients will be honored in a special ceremony in November. She was also honored this spring through AACPS, as a Distinguished Service Scholar.
About Mina’s Story and Project
Mina sees Lyme disease as a social issue; a problem in her community that could be decreased if people are made aware of prevention, symptoms, and nutritional opportunities to cure the debilitating disease prevalent in Maryland. She believes that if the community were more aware, then they could prevent the symptoms from being masked as they often are. She designed a Lyme Disease Awareness event and formed a panel of community members who had been diagnosed with Lyme. They shared their stories, tips, resources and even nutritional remedies (and food samples) to aid Mina’s hometown Maryland community. Mina completed her project during the 2016 school year while playing high school sports and earning an impressive grade point average in honors and Advanced Placement Courses.
Mina was in middle school when she started truly noticing the effects of Lyme disease. She missed most of her seventh grade year, lived in constant pain, and lost half of her bodyweight in a short period of time. She wasn’t the only one who suffered: her mother was also a long time chronic patient of the disease. Mina’s mother was misdiagnosed for years, and she was prescribed a multitude of medications that provided little relief. Mina’s interest in finding better tests for Lyme encouraged her to take biological science classes in high school. She decided that if she was going to make a difference, she needed to educate herself and her southern Anne Arundel County community, which is highly affected by this deer tick-borne disease.
In 2016, Mina’s commitment and work toward Lyme Disease awareness gradually gained traction with her peers and community, and it ultimately ended up directly serving at least 160 people through advocacy and resource awareness. During the year, Mina created an informational video presentation and delivered it to two sessions of 21 students at her school, and then two sessions of 10 and 12 business owners and community partners of her school’s signature program. Mina also designed a community awareness panel that featured Lyme disease fighters and actively engaged 58 community attendees. She extended her service by conducting smaller information sessions with 16 community members at the Anne Arundel Medical Center and 22 community members at the Deale Public Library. Her work has also been placed on the service learning website for AACPS, which serves over 82,000 students and their families. At the end of the year, Mina’s work culminated into over 100 hours of service to her community.
The impetus for Mina’s service was shaped by her personally-coined quote: “If people knew more, they’d suffer less.” Her stellar project was driven by the simple ideal of educating others to save lives. Southern High School’s Community Stakeholder Chairman David Reilly shared: “Mina’s ability to network with community members from different backgrounds and age groups truly brought our community together.” The powerful thing about Mina’s service was that it came from such a humane place. Though Mina is a phenomenal person, her résumé would reveal that she has not been a lifelong volunteer. Instead, she simply saw a need, a dearth in awareness about a debilitating disease, and harnessed her skills and resources to do something about it. The most extraordinary quality about Mina’s work lies within the ordinary — she is simply an everyday human who sought to better the lives of other humans. Thus, her story has the power to bring a quotidian appeal to public service that proves anyone can be a changemaker.