BROWNSBURG — One day she wants to open a school in Haiti. But for now, Brownsburg High School senior Jackie Sutton has English homework to do.
But she is on the right track, recently being named as the Leadership Hendricks County Youth Leader of the Year for her creative philanthropy work that started back when she was in middle school.
“I think I became a leader then,” Sutton said. “There was a project called the Green Roof Project and it was through the environmental club, which was composed of a teacher and my three good friends at the time. We decided we wanted to take on a million dollar project and build a green roof on top of our school (Brownsburg East Elementary). So I stepped up with my three friends, talked to the community, and wrote grants. The school has the roof on it.”
LHC’s youth program, which Sutton joined as a sophomore, aims to bring youths together and develop their leadership skills, along with teaching them to be responsible and to commit to making the community around them better.
Sutton said the program was invaluable and she had no idea she would be chosen for the honor, given to the most impactful youth in the program over that year.
“When I was given the award, I was completely surprised,” she said. “What I do, I don’t do for myself. I do it for others. So it really was an honor and gave me a lot of confidence.”
Sutton, who triples being a student with owning her own photography business and being a philanthropist, is most proud of her Connection Pointe Christian Church mission charity where she collects necessities for young people in need in Haiti and Honduras, hence the reason she wants to open an educational facility there in the future.
“I signed up for (the LHC program) Youth Encouraging Philanthropy and it’s really changed how I view my community and how I view others,” she said. “I tell people that it really helps students grow and learn how to work with different people. For instance, they have a ‘colors’ program where you’re a green, gold, orange, blue, and you take a survey to find out what your color is. And once you learn to identify what color a person is, you really learn how to work with different people.”
She also carries a 4.2 grade point average and is the yearbook business editor. She plans on pursuing elementary education and journalism degrees at Ball State University with a minor in philanthropy.
Sutton credits Suzanne Rozzi of LHC, Suzanne Whicker, who recently retired, and her uncle, Kent McPhail, who is on the Plainfield Town Council for getting her involved in the program and ultimately helping to facilitate her growth.
Younger students often ask her about the program, she says, and she hopes that even students that don’t consider themselves to be leaders take the plunge.
“I think it’s instrumental for students,” Sutton said. “They’ll develop skills to become a leader. You don’t really need to be the most outgoing person in the world to be a leader. You can do it in your own way. It really helps with organization, finding resources, networking, and teaching you how to connect with adults.”
For more information about the Leadership Hendricks County program, visit the website at leadershiphendrickscounty.org.