Ivana Hughes looks to her parents as mentors.
The Evans High School junior said their shining example of helping others has given her the desire to be a community activist and a motivational speaker.
"I'd like to reach more of the younger kids," she said. "When I was in middle school, I remember people coming in and talking to us about what to do to make good grades and succeed and it just grew on me."
Ivana's father also is a motivational speaker who has sparked his daughter's interest in helping others by insisting that good grades and hard work ensure a successful future.
"My dad's an accountant and he does seminars, talking to people about getting businesses started and taxes," said Ivana, the daughter of Jesse and JoAnne Hughes, of Evans. "But he also talks to kids about the importance of doing well in school."
Helping others as a motivational speaker is just one way Ivana wants to reach out to her community.
She also hopes to continue giving back to others, something instilled in her by her mother.
"My mom does a lot of community service," she said. "She likes to donate stuff to those who can use it. She's always saying, 'Let's take it to the Salvation Army.' "
Ivana is working to fill 200 stockings for the Salvation Army, which will then distribute them to needy children. The project is one begun last year by the Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America chapter at Evans High. Ivana is the president of the school's FCCLA chapter this year.
"We're trying to get businesses to donate items and help sponsor the project," she said.
"Last year we filled 120 stockings, and Ivana is determined that we can achieve more this year," said Martha McGough, the Evans High FCCLA adviser.
"She has so much energy I find it hard to keep up as her adviser."
Ivana holds a number of awards earned through her work with FCCLA. She placed first in last year's state and national STAR -- Students Taking Action with Recognition -- events, which involved strict competition and even stricter judging. In October, Ivana placed first in the state illustrated talk competition at the national fair in Perry, Ga.
In all of those events, Ivana spoke about the school's community involvement through the Salvation Army stocking project.
Although Ivana plans to pursue a career as a lawyer, she is adamant that she wants to be a motivational speaker and community leader.
Through her involvement in FCCLA and the county's 4-H program, she says she has learned the valuable lesson of service above self.
The community service practiced in the Hughes home also extends to Ivana's younger brother, Desmond, who is trying to talk his mother into giving used cars to the Salvation Army.
"I think it's working," Ivana said of Desmond's persistence.
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