A hobby of art and a passion for helping

Through participating in mission trips, volunteering for WHSDM and expressing herself in art, Catherine Collins ‘18 has found her passions and hobbies.

A+self-portrait+captured+near+Moraine+Lake%2C+Banff+National+Park%2C+Alberta%2C+in+July+2017.
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A hobby of art and a passion for helping

A self-portrait captured near Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, in July 2017.

A self-portrait captured near Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, in July 2017.

Catherine Collins

A self-portrait captured near Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, in July 2017.

Catherine Collins

Catherine Collins

A self-portrait captured near Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, in July 2017.

A self-taught photographer, passionate traveler, mission trip volunteer and West High School Dance Marathon (WHSDM) leader, Catherine Collins ‘18 has found many outlets for her creativity and her passion of helping others.

Collins’ artistic pursuits began when she was young. Using her mom’s camera to take pictures whenever she could, Collins taught herself photography through practice and YouTube videos. Her love of photography complimented her love of traveling.

The walls in my room are just adorned with photos that I’ve taken of trips. When you walk into my room, it feels a bit like you’re walking into a subpar photography studio.”

— Catherine Collins '18

“[Photography is] definitely such an integral part of travelling . . . I just love to capture moments, and it stems from [the fact that] I love to travel. I think it’s a bit of an understatement to say I’ve been bitten by the travel bug because it’s more of a visceral passion,” Collins said.

Collins’ photography skills grew the more she traveled. Through traveling, Collins has visited places like Alberta, Canada and Grindelwald, Switzerland that allow her to practice photography with unique landscapes. Collins records everything through photography, saving her memories in pictures.

“The walls in my room are just adorned with photos that I’ve taken of trips. When you walk into my room, it feels a bit like you’re walking into a subpar photography studio,” she said.

Photography gives Collins an outlet for her creativity. Only needing a camera, Collins has the freedom to travel anywhere and document her trips. She takes thousands of photos on trips, taking special interest in photographing landscapes.

A few years ago, Collins decided to start trying other types of art. She started making paper snowflakes that excel beyond the normal “fold a square and cut out a triangle.”

“They sucked [at the beginning] . . . but I like to challenge myself, even little things like snowflakes–so I just pulled up a bunch of Youtube tutorials on how to fold it right and how to cut so they kind of gradually got more intricate and the time it took to do them got longer and longer . . . Now I’m very meticulous,” said Collins.

Although the snowflakes tend to be products of boredom or stress, Collins first started making the intricate paper snowflakes to make Christmas decorations for her family.

“We had a fire a couple years ago in our house and we lost all of our Christmas decorations so my mom was like ‘Catherine, we need crafts!’ and I was like ‘Okay!’ . . . So we just put them up in the window.”

Photography and art are Catherine’s hobbies, but her passion is to help others, which is how she became a leader for West High School Dance Marathon her freshman year.

WHSDM has allowed Collins to focus her passion for helping others into the community, where she can initiate change.

“It has really helped me to be able to hone my leadership skills and it really has helped bolster this innate passion I have for helping others,” she said.

It has really helped me to be able to hone my leadership skills and it really has helped bolster this innate passion I have for helping others.”

— Catherine Collins '18

This year, however, WHSDM and Collins herself took on much more responsibility since the two teacher advisors, Jenifer Secrist and Shishonee Hughes both moved to Liberty High. WHSDM was smaller this year compared to the past, but had more community outreach. Collins admits WHSDM was different this year with the moving of the teacher leaders, from the money raised to the responsibilities of the WHSDM team.

“We’re about half the size and we raised about half what we raised [last year] so it makes sense. If anything–because we were kind of in limbo this year–it just gave us a new opportunity to invest more time in the emotional and family side of this so we really got to bond with new families and really focus a lot more of our efforts bringing it away from the financial aspect and into the family one, which is really at the heart of why we do this.”

Being on the WHSDM leadership board for four years, Collins was put in a bigger role this year with the absence of the advisors. Collins was put in charge of the financials of the group, but also aided any section of WHSDM that needed help.

“Catherine is an amazing kid with a big heart and a passion for helping others. She was so instrumental in her leadership role with dance marathon and in PALs this year. I always tell her that she will be president one day,” said Mayra DeVries, the new WHSDM supervisor.

The cool thing about going [to Haiti] four times is that we’ve been able to build these phenomenal bonds that transcend ‘barriers’ of race or culture or language, it’s just so amazing.”

— Catherine Collins

Catherine’s passion for helping others doesn’t stop at dance marathon. Since freshman year, Collins has gone on a mission trip to Haiti with Liberty science teacher Secrist.

Collins and the rest of the group visit Haiti once a year to help start long-term change. They have built a school for the children and a training camp for teachers. Unlike most mission trips, Collins and the group visit Haiti with little to no plan on what they will be working on. Instead, they let the community leaders plan what will be done during their trip to make sure they leave the best, long-term impact on the community.

“I’m proud to say that we try to pride ourselves on serving as a helping hand as much as we can . . . We really work on building agency in others and promoting dignity . . . Our main goal is to empower others.”

Collins’ mission work in Haiti has been an inspiration, and has allowed her to further her volunteer skills that she hopes to use in the future. Her work has not only been humbling but has given her experience with something she has always been passionate about.

“It’s as much of a trip to go see friends as it is volunteering. The cool thing about going four times is that we’ve been able to build these phenomenal bonds that transcend ‘barriers’ of race or culture or language, it’s just so amazing and I feel so fortunate that we are welcomed back continually and that I’m able to go down there and just have that amazing experience.”

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