ST. ALBANS — During a time when adolescents are frequently struggling to navigate social situations, maintain a decent academic record and experience pressure to form post-diploma plans, Gabrielle Metz found herself.

The 18-year-old from St. Albans graduated from BFA-St. Albans last June. She took with her an impressive resume of volunteer work, and recently became the state honoree for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.

Metz says during her sophomore year, her mother pushed her to branch out and meet new people. She had been an active participant in sports, but says she was feeling stuck “in her own little world” in school and was looking to find something that really clicked.

The opportunity to participate in a Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) leadership conference arose, and Metz’ family was supportive, though she says she didn’t fully understand what it was.

“Take a risk, give it a try,” Metz says her mother told her.

“That seminar really taught me about community service, and giving back, and how you can be a leader,” Metz said. “That kind of sparked a passion of mine.”

After HOBY, Metz became involved with Unified Sports for the Special Olympics after a suggestion from one of her teachers. “I think [my teacher] recommended it to me because I think I demonstrate in class that I want to help my fellow classmates with whatever they’re doing, whether that’s homework or any concepts. I’m always willing to put myself out there, be a leader for someone else,” says Metz. “I think she recognized those potential skills that I have, and she thought I would excel, that they would grow while doing Unified Sports.”

For more of our interview with Ms. Metz, pick up a copy of Friday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.