Alexis Haas of Bloomington has spent more than half her life serving her community. First she had role models in her parents, Lisa and Kurt, who both remain dedicated to community service. But not coincidentally, Haas got her start serving others when she and friends joined the Girls Scouts 12 years ago when they were just young grade-schoolers.
“People think the Girl Scouts is just about making new friends, earning badges, and selling cookies,” Haas said. “But, they teach us a lot of life skills, and community service is one of those lessons.”
Her dedication to helping others has earned Haas a McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship. She is one of seven McLean County freshmen awarded the scholarship, which provides four years of free tuition in recognition of leadership, community service, and commitment to our community. This is the second year for the scholarship, and Haas is especially excited to use her scholarship to attend Illinois State University, which she said, was “always” her top choice.
Haas was aware of the scholarship from a friend who won it last year and from her mom, who works at Illinois State. Both mother and daughter reacted with understandable excitement to the good news.
“This is just huge for me and my family,” Haas said. “I remember I got the email and called Mom, and she started crying at her desk.”
The email came while Haas was in civics class at Normal Community High School, and she mistook it for a message she was waiting on from campus housing.
“Then I saw that it was from admissions and not housing,” she said. “I was kind of freaked out, but I kept quiet.”
Her teacher, LaTishia Baker, who she has a close relationship with, asked her what was going on.
“Since I was done with my assignment she took me to the school counselors’ office and paraded me around and had me tell the counselors in that office,” Haas said, adding that her shyness made that quite a big deal.
Through the years the community service projects that have meant the most to her are those she’s done with her parents. Like back in junior high when Haas, a dog lover, and her dad helped take care of dogs at Central Illinois Animal Rescue. But her favorite has been volunteering with her mother at Midwest Food Bank.
“It can have such positive impact on the community,” she said. “I also like it because I do it with my mom and one of my friends who is still in the troop from our original group of 10.”
The only drawback to serving Midwest Food Bank, she said, is that she only gets to volunteer there a few times a year because there are so many volunteers already serving the organization.
In her scholarship essay, Haas wrote that she and friends try to make it a rewarding and fun volunteer experience, but she doesn’t fail to appreciate how important it is.
“I hate to think of families, and especially children, going hungry so I love their mission,” she wrote.
While she’s taking her time picking a course of study to pursue, this undeclared major knows she wants to be fully immersed in college life. Part of that will start early by living in a dormitory.
“I plan to live on campus at least the first year to meet people and get the whole college experience,” Haas said.
She’s also interested in checking out the Illinois State University Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter.
And, college won’t change her love for the Girls Scouts as Haas plans to keep that connection going strong in the future.
“You can stay in it through your senior year of high school,” she said. “Then after high school, you can become a lifetime member and continue to help out. I love knowing that something I’m doing can help people in our community.”