By Mike Beas
Making a difference requires follow-through in order to be effective.
Avon High School senior Neva Verbik understands this.
Better yet, she embraces it.
Verbik is president of her school’s chapter of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping high school students of promise who have experienced challenging or traumatic life experiences.
She’s been part of JAG since her junior year, her previous role being social media and marketing director.
The experience, Verbik says, has been life-altering both personally and professionally.
The many benefits of JAG include learning how to build a resume, interviewing confidently and more.
“I was sitting there as a sophomore thinking I really needed those things,” said Verbik. “I asked my counselor about the program, and so I joined the class and haven’t looked back.
“Now, especially this year as president, it’s been more about learning how to be a good leader and being a good example for those in my class. The ultimate goal for our program is for everyone in our class to have options after high school.”
Approximately 50 Avon High School students are part of JAG, which meets four school days a week.
It’s not the only area in which Verbik attempts to make a difference.
Verbik, who maintains a 3.5 grade point average, loves and is fascinated by animals of all kinds, so she volunteers many hours of her time at the Indianapolis Zoo.
She is also a delegate to the National 4-H Youth Leadership Congress.
“I just think Neva has been influenced by the JAG program, and it’s shown her more options for her future,” said her mother, Lacey Verbik. “It’s shown Neva her own leadership abilities.”
Two of Neva Verbik’s current hobbies are aerial acrobatics and playing clarinet in her school’s Symphonic Band.
Check back with her a year from now — or, most likely, less — and there’s a reasonably good chance she’ll have moved on to other interests.
“I just think I enjoy learning new things,” she said.
In time, Verbik will be doing exactly that at the University of Evansville after winning a $23,000 four-year scholarship.
As a junior, she entered Evansville’s High School Changemaker Challenge and gained notice with her idea of addressing the increasing lack of space for plants to grow, providing a solution for pollution and global warming.
Verbik plans to major in biology at UE, the initial steps of her eventually becoming a veterinarian.
Early in her time as a high school student, Verbik wasn’t overly social. Her involvement in JAG, as well as other causes, pulled her from her shell in a big way.
Verbik now tackles life with confidence and a hint of entrepreneurial spirit.
“I just like being involved, especially in the community,” said Verbik. “Of course, a lot of activities are resume-building, but I also just like to have fun and meet new people who are interested in the same things as me.”