Student:

Anna Mathew

School: Neshaminy High School in Middletown Township, where she is a senior.

Achievements: Mathew, 18, was a runner-up for the 2007 YWCA Bucks County Teen Volunteer of the Year Award, and has amassed a volunteer resume that includes lobbying state government for the March of Dimes, starting a nutrition workshop for elementary school students, and representing the high school in a student scholars program at Frankford Hospital.

Mathew is a member of the National Honor Society and the French Honor Society, and her grades place her in the top 5 percent of her graduating class. She is an officer of Neshaminy Cares, a community-service organization at her school, and organized a Reading Olympics team when the high school club had no one to lead it. She has won awards for academic achievement, debating and community service.

Neshaminy Cares: "We organize different things like tutoring at the elementary schools, and we do walks to raise money, like the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society," she said. "We collect paperback books for soldiers in the Middle East, and we collect prom dresses for girls who can't afford to buy them at full price.

"We also have 'Neshaminy Idol' once a year, when we put on a talent show and the proceeds go to charities like the March of Dimes and St. Christopher's Hospital. And we adopted a little girl as part of the Sunshine Foundation and helped raise money to send her on a vacation to Disney World."

Hobnobbing with the powerful: "March of Dimes had a lobby day, and they were supporting a bill that would mandate health screenings for newborns.

"What the screening is about is that some babies are born with metabolic conditions which are not found and treated right away and could cause could cause death or severe damage like mental retardation.

"If you catch them early enough, you might have to do something as simple as change the diet to avoid a problem. So we went to Harrisburg and talked to legislators from our district."

Hobnobbing, Part II: "I talked about how it would help the state financially. Kids who aren't caught for metabolic conditions, eventually some of them will be taking aid from Medicare and Medicaid. Screening the child could turn out to be less expensive than treating a child for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, a big deal of it is about money, so you have to argue that side.

"We'll be going back on Tuesday to talk about banning indoor smoking. It's not fair for people who work in bars and casinos to be exposed to second-hand smoke, and everybody should have a good, quality work environment."

Eating right: "I did this project for the Pennsylvania Governor's School for Health Care. The governor's school selects people every year to study health care, and I got to go to the University of Pittsburgh for five weeks.

"I did my project on nutrition because I thought elementary schools didn't spend a lot of time on that. In one class, we talked about calcium and bones and we brought in a chicken bone that was sitting in vinegar and showed them how easy it was to break, and that's what happens when you don't have calcium."

Fitting it all in: "It can be a bit stressful at times, and my calendar is pretty full. But as long as I have time to schedule, I can figure it out. I only do what I can handle, and I don't do so much that I wouldn't do well in school."

Dr. Mathew: "I would like to be a doctor. I'm thinking either emergency medicine or surgery. I grew up here, but my parents are from India. When I was 8 years old, we went back to visit and I was really awestruck by what I saw.

"I saw a man who was walking on his hands in the street because he had polio. I saw so many people who didn't have anyone to care for them or to give them medical aid, and I wanted to be someone who could help them."

Personal growth: "Most of my hospital and medical-related activities I did to experience what it might be like if I were a doctor. The other stuff, I just like doing.

"And you do need to learn how to interact with people, no matter what profession you have. I've always been a kind of shy person. I sort of still am, but volunteering has kind of helped me be better at talking with people."

College: "I'm going to Drexel University. I got into their BS/MD program. I do three years of undergrad, and if I keep my grades up and do certain qualifications, I get into Drexel medical school."

What the Neshaminy Cares adviser says: "Anna is an amazing kid. She is not the loud kid or the hey-look-at-me kid. She quietly goes about her business and leads by example," Suzi Drake said.

"She is one of the kids who truly believes that everybody can make a positive impact in the world."

- Kristin E. Holmes