Whiz Kid’s Name and Age: Sarah Hackett, 18
Whiz Kid’s School: Wilton High School graduate who heads to the University of Richmond in the fall, to pursue Psychology and Leadership Studies
Whiz Kid’s Awards: Hackett was recently awarded the prestigious P.E.O. STAR Scholarship, which according to the P.E.O. website, is a $2,500 scholarship for leadership, extracurricular activities, community service, academics and potential for future success. Hackett received the award from the local Wilton chapter of P.E.O., an international organization which promotes educational opportunities for women.
In addition, she was nominated by outgoing Wilton High School Principal Tim Canty to represent the school for the 2011 Prudential Spirit of Community award, which also recognizes young community service volunteers. Hackett was one of four students to be acknowledged at the state level by the NASSP, the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Hackett says what was most notable about the Prudential award was the accompanying letter signed by President Obama. “That was really cool, I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Among the other accolades Hackett has received for her community service? At the senior awards ceremony held before graduation she was presented with the Wilton Woman’s Club Elizabeth Sternad Scholarship, and she was also included in Westport Magazine’s 2010 roundup of the “Ten Teens to Watch” for their altruistic activities.
Whiz Kid’s Achievements: When she was just a high school sophomore, Hackett trained to be a certified counselor for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Stamford. She channeled that training into starting , a teen-led group dedicated to raising awareness of domestic and dating violence in Wilton.
Also during her sophomore year, Hackett created an organization called Preemie Helping Preemies, an outgrowth of her own experience of being born three months prematurely and spending the first several months of her life in the Stamford Hospital NICU. She raised more than $3,000 by recycling bottles and cans donated by neighbors, friends and family, and used the return deposit money to make care packages for families with premature babies in the NICU.
Hackett also helped run the Kids’ Camp at Relay for Life to entertain and educate the preschoolers through fifth grade during the American Cancer Society event.
She was a Key Club member, a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society for the last two years, and earned high honors all four years.
In her spare time, Hackett likes to travel, including taking trips to China and Ecuador through the People To People Ambassador program. She also likes to draw and is a huge fan of the television show ‘Glee.’
Whiz Kid’s Key to Awesomeness: Hackett says her experience of being born a premature baby has motivated her to reach big and give back.
“They told my parents several times that I wouldn’t live. And so having that chance to really live life when I wasn’t supposed to has been a really big motivation for me in trying to give back to the people and the community that has really helped me when I was younger.”
She’s also grateful to her parents.
“They’re amazing people and I would be lucky if I would be slightly like them at all. Their hard work has inspired me to work hard and make a difference in someone’s life.”