Davina Merritt has been named the top student leader in Canada just a few months after graduating from Olds High School.
On Monday, Chinook’s Edge School Division revealed Merritt was awarded the Bill Conconi Leadership Award by the Canadian Student Leadership Association (CSLA).
“I honestly feel like I am in awe,” said Merritt.
“I did some research on past recipients and I am humbled. Mostly, I am grateful for all of the opportunities that I have had that led me to this prestigious award.”
The award goes to one high school student each year – the recipient is given a $1,000 scholarship.
The process of selection for the award involves member schools making nominations to CSLA. One student is selected from each province or territory – the 12 students receive provincial recognition and $500.
Merritt received the Alberta award. From the group of 12, CSLA then narrows the selection to three top leadership students and completes interviews with candidates and their teachers. Merritt was selected as the recipient of the Bill Conconi Leadership Award.
Meaghan Reist, Olds High School principal, said Merritt is “very deserving of this recognition.”
“When we think of students who truly make change in their school communities, who do so because they love it but also because they know the difference it will make in the lives of others, we think of Davina. Her leadership capacity is natural; she is humble, humorous and hardworking. Our whole community is so proud of Davina,” said Reist.
Merritt is also the recipient of the Alberta Premier’s Citizenship Award, the Rotary “Service Above Self” Award, the Lion’s Legacy Award, and the Town of Olds Youth Volunteer of the Year Award.
She received a leadership scholarship from the University of Alberta, where she now studies Environmental Studies with a minor in Politics, Society and Global Environment.
Her dream is to work for Rotary or eventually the United Nations in the organization’s environment sector. Regardless of where she lands, Merritt said, “I hope to continue to be involved in volunteering in some way.”
Her biggest piece of advice for students who are going into high school is to get involved.
“You are going to have a way better high school experience if you’re actively a part of the school culture,” said Merritt.
“You have nothing to lose by trying out different opportunities. You don’t have to do everything; the most difficult thing is finding the courage and drive to just start.”