“Service is not about yourself and all of the great things you can do for other people,” says Caroline Milgram ’20, defining her personal philosophy. “It’s about creating relationships and giving back. Service is your responsibility, not your gift.” Caroline lives this ethos. As 11th grade Service Head, she admits she finds it hard to turn away great ideas. “When someone says they have a great idea, I feel like we have to put it into motion,” and she does. “I have a hard time saying no,” she says, laughing.
One of Caroline’s latest projects is “Thon,” a mini dance marathon designed to raise money for research and treatment of pediatric cancer. Thon grew out of student interest for a spring event and a desire to have a dance accessible to freshmen and sophomores. “I love Thon because it encompasses community, leadership and service all in one,” she says. It’s a huge undertaking, perhaps larger than she first realized, but it’s exciting, and fun. She and her Thon co-conspirer Sarah McGrath set a goal to have more members of the Shipley community active in the planning and execution of Thon, and they have succeeded. “We have three teams: marketing, production, and development,” she says enthusiastically, “And we’ll have three “hype” events to raise money for our Thon operating budget.” Thon will take place in April, so the organization and planning have moved into high gear.
Caroline is also the first student leader of Positive Paws. “It has nothing to do with animals,” smiles Caroline. Positive Paws is a program in which Shipley high school volunteers travel to the Andrew Jackson School in Philadelphia to work with 40-50 first graders. “I plan the weekly lessons,” explains Caroline. “The first thing we do is give the kids a snack. Ninety-eight-percent of the kids are under the poverty level and we want to make sure they are filling up after school.” They then teach a lesson. “We teach compassion, responsibility, honesty, sharing, those sorts of things.” It’s a lot of work, but for Caroline, it is the best sort of work. “I love it with my whole heart,” she says. “It’s amazing.”
Caroline balances her academic work with her extra-curricular activities. “My mom is very clear that school comes first,” she says. “If the grades go, the activities go.” So far, so good. “I think that school is the time to learn how to act and to find out who I am,” she says. “And the after-school activities are my time to express who I am and learn about other things.”