Natalie is a recent graduate of Evergreen High School who's headed for Western State College as an art major in just a few weeks, boosted by five scholarships – two related to talents in her chosen field, two based on merit, and one because of her community service.
Her efforts scholastically and with volunteering have not gone unnoticed. She was this year's recipient of the Evergreen Artists' Association scholarship and was one of two students selected to receive the prestigious Western State College of Colorado Presidential Honors Scholarship.
She chose Western State because it is a small school, has a good arts program, and is far enough away from home but not too far. She describes herself as a not being "a city girl." She enjoys horseback riding and camping.
You've probably seen her around and not known it.
As young people often look for ways to differentiate themselves, Natalie simply stands out because she's involved in the community. You might see her volunteering in a variety of activities ranging from INTERACT (the high school version of a Rotary Club sponsored locally by Evergreen Rotary), collecting recycling material for Green Team, or painting faces at Earth Day.
Working behind the scenes brings her pleasure as well. She was part of the backstage crew and set creation at EHS productions. She's one of ten students from area schools who served on the Jefferson County Library Teen Advisory Board to help build connections between teens and the library. She also participated in the Book Club.
She's been seen packing boxes of food for needy Jefferson County families at both The Action Center and at the Elks Club on behalf of the Seniors' Resource Center.
She's volunteered for Center for the Arts Evergreen with Paint, Sculpt, Shoot; Winterfest; and Summerfest. You might have seen her helping with the Alternative Gift Fair or helping with the Cat Room for the Evergreen Animal Protective League, both projects related to her synagogue.
As an active member of Congregation Beth Evergreen, Natalie's been an assistant with Hebrew School, teaching the younger children, and has helped with a variety of fundraising activities. She and her family typically prepare a luncheon and feed the entire congregation during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. On occasion, she helps her dad with other special catering events as well.
Family plays a big part in Natalie's zest for life and has served as an inspiration for her community service. The Tarasars have (each year for many years now) provided one of 11 Hobie Cat sailboats for Craig Hobie Day, an activity for patients at Craig Hospital who get out on Hobie Cat sailboats at Cherry Creek Reservoir. Fifty patients with varying degrees of spinal cord and brain injuries test the rehab skills they learn at Craig following catastrophic injuries. Natalie has helped on the beach or on the sailboat itself every year "for as long as she can remember."
In addition, she was pleased that her parents were able to step in on short notice to host a Rotary exchange student from the Philippines for four months during her senior year. She formed a lasting friendship and hopes to visit her friend in the Philippines someday.
This has been a summer filled with special events, as Natalie just returned from a humanitarian trip to a rural part of western Kenya where she helped to build a footbridge with local students to enable them to walk to school during the rainy season. As many as 40% of the students couldn't get to school because of the pre-existing rickety bridge. As one of six from the metro area (the only one from Evergreen HS), she spent more than two weeks there and still has remnants of blisters (from using a machete) to show for it. She attributes her interest in the Kenya experience to Scott Haebe, her teacher at Evergreen High School in History and Contemporary World Issues. The trip was funded in part by Rotary and was conducted in cooperation with Harambee, Inc,
Natalie is the kind of person who not only makes a family proud but also her teachers and her community. Thanks, Natalie, for all you've done in your first 18 years! We look forward to following your progress in the years to come.