BY MOLLY BRUSH
Like any high-achieving high school freshman, Aliya Rife thought it would be a good idea to get some volunteer service on her resume before she started filling out college applications, so she joined the Monroe County Youth Council (MCYC), a youth-run nonprofit organization that provides leadership and service opportunities to high school students. As she became more involved with MCYC, her initial interest in simply volunteering evolved into a true passion for service.
“At first I knew it would look really good on college applications, but then I learned I actually enjoyed it,” Rife says.
Now a senior at Bloomington High School South, Rife, 17, is a member of the MCYC Youth Leadership Team. She’s also the founder of Page By Page, an MCYC project that helps children acquire developmental assets, preparing them to become successful adults. Rife leads a team of six MCYC members who visit local elementary schools and community organizations to read and reflect on books that incorporate one or more of 40 key developmental assets kids need to succeed, as identified by the nonprofit Search Institute.
“I love spending time with all the kids,” Rife says. “Even though I’m the one who is supposed to be teaching them assets, I really learn so much from them. They’re all so creative and think so differently.”
Rife had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Monroe County Childhood Conditions Summit in 2016, where she gave a presentation on Page By Page. Now she’s on the planning committee for the 2017 summit, which will take place in December. This year she will also lead a workshop on how young people can get involved in improving their lives and their communities.
In addition to her involvement with MCYC and Page By Page, Rife is the captain of Bloomington South’s debate team. She also studies piano and voice and is a member of Sounds of South, the school’s advanced choir. She plans to major in political science and communications in college; future plans include attending law school. Eventually, she would like to become a legal advocate for children and families.
“My involvement in MCYC and Page By Page has completely changed my mind about what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Rife says. “I used to want to be an actress, but through everything I’ve seen and done these past couple years, I’ve realized my passion.”