St. John’s student determined to change the world

Her face may not have appeared on election signs this year, but St. John’s senior Camille has already thought about tossing her hat into the ring.

“I want to change the world in some way,” said Camille, 16, who is beginning her fourth year at St. John’s. “But that’s kind of a broad idea. You don’t know where to start, especially as a kid.”

b2Camille and her parents worked on narrowing down her goal a bit this summer through a one-day internship for high school students organized by the Provincial College of Brabant-Walloon. Offered the opportunity to shadow a professional and get an up-close look at real-life activities, Kummer chose an elected official.

“What better way is there to learn about changing the world than to follow around a person who is trying to do just that?” she asked. “And it was great. The day was really stimulating. It was amazing.”

Her day was a busy one, moving from laying the first brick for a swimming pool project and a public talk about infrastructure planning to a meeting, where she took notes, and office sessions signing documents and preparing for the election.

“I got to see so many things in one day. I almost felt like I’d been around the world. It was great,” she said.

Camille’s top academic interests are politics, economics and philosophy. Her challengeb3 has been trying to find a future profession that would combine all three. She got a hint of a possibility when, during a break, they spoke about how an elected official balances efforts to attract jobs and improve the economy, through such efforts as road projects, while balancing financial constraints and environmental concerns.

“I could see he was making a difference,” she said. “And he said he absolutely loved his job.”

The one drawback, for Kummer, is the need to stay in one location for a long time if she was elected to a governmental position. Her dream job would enable her to move around and see different places.

“Maybe I’ll find it. Or create it,” she said. “I’m going for the principle that if I study something I love, I will end up doing something I love.”

Leaping into the unknown is perhaps less daunting for her than others because she has already done it.

She arrived at St. John’s in eighth grade from France unable to speak a word of English. So, of course, she immediately did something else she had never done before and got involved with the school musical, Les Miserables, singing and dancing and doing a bit of acting in the chorus.

Mrs. Victoire D agostino  Kummer  Camille  (12068).jpg“ It was such a time of discovery. And you learn a lot about yourself,” she said of those early months. “It definitely required me to express myself in a different way – and to expand my boundaries.”

Camille, who is now fluent in English and even speaks with a hint of an English accent, was elected to the Student Council the next year and rose to the vice presidency in 11th grade. She also ran cross-country.

She credits the St. John’s community with helping her along the way, especially when Camille had a bit of a language crisis that first December. Both French and English had gotten so muddled, she said she was struggling to speak a complete sentence in either language.

 “I needed a lot, lot of sleep,” she explained. “My brain was going all the time I was awake. I was so tired.”

But students and teachers at St. John’s remained supportive and patient.

“People were trying to listen to me and trying to understand what I was trying to say,” she said, and during winter break she had a breakthrough in both languages. “The community was so encouraging.”