Riley Paul is a top scholar and athlete who is passionate about servant leadership. She has a long list of community service and leadership projects and has maintained an excellent GPA despite a very full schedule.
The Associated Student Body has been a major focus for Paul for several years, and she has served in several roles including, currently, as the president. She says she became involved because she wanted to make school a better place.
“It’s important for me to serve and give back,” she says.
She created a club called Girls for Change to mentor elementary school girls, teach them social skills and inclusion, and fight against bullying.
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The program she created, called Life Advice to Being Nice, brought high school mentors to Purdy Elementary School last year to empower young girls and inspire them to be compassionate. The program includes 30 fourth- and fifth-grade students, and Paul recruited and trained nine high school freshmen girls to participate.
“We didn’t know how the girls would receive the message and if it would resonate with them,” she says. “But they’re so excited to tell us what they’re doing. It’s cool to hear how we’re inspiring them.”
The program was so successful, Paul was planning to bring it back to Purdy this spring while also expanding to Discovery Elementary. Other elementary schools have also expressed interest, and recently Paul helped recruit more than 20 new mentors.
ASB adviser Kelly Indahl says through this project, Paul has also become a mentor to the freshmen as well, helping them find a way they could contribute.
“She is instrumental in helping this year’s freshman class become one of the most successfully impactful classes I have seen come through Gig Harbor High School,” Indahl says. “Riley has helped empower them to take on various community service projects and events.”
Her many achievements include organizing a leadership summit for middle and high school students, the first event of its kind at Peninsula School District.
An avid athlete since she was young, Paul is also a leader on the cross-country and track field. She not only loves to run but also to encourage the younger runners and to make them feel valued.
She says being busy is the secret to her academic success.
“I wouldn’t be as successful if I didn’t focus on areas other than academics,” she says.
Paul plans to attend California Polytechnic State University to study business. She hasn’t decided on a career path but hopes to create her own business in the future.
Category: Community service
Education: Senior, Gig Harbor High School
Parents: Marty and Stacy Paul
Activities/Achievements: 9 AP/Honors classes; Girls for Change Club founder and president; creator of Life Advice to Being Nice elementary mentoring program; ASB secretary, senator, president; Mt. Baker Leadership Camp delegate; Vacation Bible School leader; volunteer for COFIA, Young Life, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and many others; National Honor Society tutor; organizer of first PSD Servant Leadership Summit; “Make a Difference Week” chair; varsity cross-country “Most Inspirational,” Tide Award, state competitor; varsity track Freshman of the Year; Scholastic Athlete Award; Outstanding Service Award; JV basketball
Favorite teacher: Kelly Indahl, math and ASB adviser, “because she taught me the value of having a servant’s heart. She inspires me every day to be a better leader.”
Best thing about high school: “You’re surrounded by students and staff who find the best in everyone and treat each other with genuine kindness and respect. It’s an incredible place to be part of.”