Rotary Student of the Month embodies putting community service first


Abigail Englin sets a high bar for leadership at Hastings High School.

Englin was honored at the Thursday, Feb. 15 meeting of the Hastings Rotary Club as its January Student of the Month. The Hastings Rotary meets every Thursday at 7:30 a.m. at Second Street Depot.

Englin was nominated for the honor by special education teacher Jacquelyn Morrison and math teacher Paul Olson. Morrison commented at the meeting that the fact that teachers in two diverse specialties made the nomination shows how many lives Englin touches.

Englin works hard to help other students.

“Abi has been a student of mine in advisory the past three years and has really grown into an incredible leader,” said Olson. “She has come out of her shell, so to speak, and does a great job creating an atmosphere in advisory where she leads by example in participation and community building. She knows everyone’s name in advisory and is a person that anyone can go to for support. We decided to have advisory ‘captains’ this past year, and she was the top choice from the students and from me. She takes the position seriously and is always coming up with new and cool ideas to keep advisory from becoming monotonous. She continually puts others first and has this smile on her face that just keeps the room positive.”

She also is an academic leader.

“I also have her in AP stats this year, and it is cool to see the academic side come out. She again is always willing to help others,” said Olson. “She truly embodies serving others.”

Morrison is also a National Honor Society advisor. Of Englin, she said, “She is a responsible, kind and enthusiastic member of this group. Abi volunteered at Tilden last year and enjoyed her time there. After the hours were maxed out, she showed me appreciation for the opportunity and expressed she would like to continue to volunteer her time there because she loved it so much. Abi’s heart is big and her empathy for others is shown through her everyday action.”

Englin was personable and poised in her remarks to Rotarians.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Rotary Student of the Month award,” she said. “I am grateful for this recognition and thankful to the Rotary Club for this prestigious honor. I am thrilled to be a part of such an esteemed community and to have the opportunity to represent my school this way.”

She credited school leaders for instilling her sense of community service.

“I would like to express my gratitude to my teachers, mentors and peers who have supported and encouraged me throughout my academic journey, especially Mrs. Morrison and Mr. Olson, who have nominated me for this honor. Their guidance has been irreplaceable, and I am truly grateful for their support,” she said. “I believe that service is an essential part of being a well-rounded individual, and I am committed to making a positive impact in my community. My mother Vicky and later my stepdad Ben have always instilled the importance of caring for others in my life, whether it was getting me involved in my community through singing in the church choir and 4-H or reminding me to treat others how I wanted to be treated. They inspired me to continue giving back and to strive for excellence in all aspects of my life.”

In addition to academics and mentorship, Englin is active in music at HHS.

“I also believe that my involvement in not just extracurriculars at HHS but just part of its welcoming community has allowed me to develop the principle of service over self,” she said. “I am heavily involved within the music program at HHS and have even been lucy enough to serve in various leadership positions.”

She has served as section leader in band and dance captain in show choir.

“These positions have pushed me to strive for excellence not only for myself but for the group as a whole. Being in such an amazing program with such amazing directors as Ms. Mahlen and Mr. Warren has fostered a sense of community in me that I will forever be grateful for. The live and breathe the principles of doing things for others, not just yourself, and have really helped me portray that in my life.”

Englin also serves as president of the Spanish Honors Society in NHS.

“NHS is definitely the club that brings service to my life the most. I have thoroughly enjoyed the many opportunities I have gotten within my service hours including working at Tilden preschool and Benedictine Nursing Home, and I hope to continue servicing these places beyond my time in the NHS,” she said.

Englin plans to attend Luther College in Decorah, Iowa next year, with a major in social work and a minor in Spanish, “my goal being to one day become a child life specialist where I will work with children to help create a sense of normalcy in their abnormal circumstances of being in the hospital and the treatment to come after. My hope is that this profession will allow me to continue in service to others who need it most.”