Giving back to others and making an impact on their lives has become a calling for Damácia Howard. The Georgia Cyber Academy 10th grader has a busy schedule outside of school competing in pageants and volunteering, but online learning is giving her the opportunity to work with causes that are important to her and focus on her studies.
Prior to enrolling at GCA, Damácia struggled to find time to be involved in the community and succeed in her classes. Now, she is balancing her commitments and embracing her full potential.
“I now realize I am capable of doing more than I imagined,” Damácia said. Now, if she hears about an event in the community she wants to support, she can adjust her class work to attend.
With the opportunities that online learning provides, Damácia has been able to dedicate her time to causes and organizations she is passionate about, as she works to solve problems both in her community and around the world.
One such organization is Books for Africa, whose mission is to bring an end to the book famine in Africa by providing students with reading materials in order to improve their literacy skills.
Since joining Books for Africa’s efforts two years ago, Damácia has collected more than 20,000 books – part of the 4.1 million books the organization has collected in that time!
Damácia was inspired to get involved with Books for Africa while in a seventh-grade social studies class at GCA. There, she learned about the low literacy rates in other countries in comparison to the United States.
“After realizing that all countries don’t have access to the same things that we do in the US, I was fortunate to find a way to help,” Damácia said.
Damácia and her mother searched for organizations that work to help students learn to read. They came across Books for Africa and fell in love with the work they are doing to introduce more kids to reading.
Damácia is glad she can play a role in improving literacy across the world. Improving access to reading has also become a part of her platform in her pageant competitions, where she can raise awareness about this important cause by discussing her volunteer work.
Damácia is involved with other causes as well, including Building Respect and Values for Everyone, or B.R.A.V.E., which is the national platform for the Miss High School America organization.
With B.R.A.V.E., Damácia travels to schools, libraries, and community centers across the state of Georgia to reduce the negative effects of bullying and to promote bully-free environments. Since being crowned Miss Georgia High School America 2019, Damácia has delivered more than 20 presentations to students.
The work that she is doing is not going unnoticed. Damácia has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award five times for her work helping others in need. The award is given to individuals, age 15 and older, who complete 100 or more hours of service a year.
Damácia encourages others to seek opportunities to give back, and to find a cause that matters to them. She said that her experiences have not only helped her assist others but have helped her realize her full potential.
Damácia does not have plans to stop volunteering anytime soon. In fact, she has her sights set on big ambitions: To donate one million books to improve literacy.
Her advice for others who are considering volunteering is simple: “Do it!”