“No matter how small the gesture is, it’s always important to have someone there for you. Friendship is everything and everyone should get to experience it,” senior Francia Munoz said.
As a peer tutor for SSD students and a member of Best Buddies, a club that promotes friendship between people with and without Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), senior Natalie Hanrahan has made many new friends who have inspired her to pursue a career in helping people.
“I’m going into occupational therapy,” Hanrahan said. “It’s a little different than physical therapy. It offers me the chance to have variety in my career. You can work a lot of places with a ton of different people, (and) you get to help people better their lives, which I think is important.”
During peer tutoring, Hanrahan assists students with their school-based job tasks and classroom activities.
“She is very motivating for the students is always kind and patient,” SSD teacher Emily McEntire said about Hanrahan. “(Her) presence in the classroom has increased the level of participation for several of our students. They love to work and learn from her.”
“Natalie has been so awesome this year,” Best Buddies president Munoz added. “She has made a good impact on everyone.”
Other than Best Buddies and peer tutoring, Hanrahan has been involved with women’s Varsity soccer, pep club, DECA, National Honors Society and French National Honors Society. She has taken French every year and has grown close to French teacher Jeff Stein.
About Hanrahan, Stein said, “What makes Natalie special is her drive to achieve. She never stops trying. I think this is evident whether she is in the classroom or on the soccer field.”
“Over the past four years, I have watched Natalie evolve into a confident young woman who has become quite resourceful,” Stein added, “Four years ago, she was much quieter than today, and she would say things like, ‘I won’t be as good in this class as my brother and sister were.’ I no longer hear those sorts of comments.”
This is Eleanor Marshall’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year. She has been recognized for her work by JournalismSTL, MJEAand MIPA.