By Casey Hans
When she was a fifth-grader, Malaika Worsham’s mom encouraged her volunteer for Meals on Wheels. She was somewhat reluctant and shy, she said, but serving meals to seniors in need turned out to be a way of life for this Skyline High School sophomore.
“My family’s big into volunteering,” she said. “I worked over Thanksgiving in the fifth-grade delivering food to the elderly with a group. It definitely let me know there’s more out there in the world. Now I see why she did it. I thank her for it.”
Worsham was recently selected by the national Points of Light Institute’s GenerationOn program as one of 10 students from around the country for its inaugural National Youth Advisory Council. Students range in age from grades eight to 11 and represent both public and private schools.
She was encouraged to apply last winter by a family friend because of her volunteering efforts, and was selected this spring. The 10 council members spent a long weekend in Washington D.C. to meet and get the program started.
GenerationOn is a global service movement that encourages volunteerism. As part of the Council, the 10 young leaders will help to develop and execute GenerationOn’s key initiatives, and serve as an ambassador for the next 18 months.
During her time in the capital, she learned leadership training, team building and spent time with Neil Bush, chairman and CEO of Points of Light Institute, as well as other executives. She was interviewed by NBC in her role as an ambassador for GenerationOn and is part of a team creating a documentary service project about veterans, according to her Mom, Sherri Smith. On their last night in Washington, D.C., the student leaders attended a tribute to former Pres. George H. W. Bush, who created the Points of Light Institute.
Smith said she is proud of her daughter and what she has accomplished at a young age. “I think it’s a wonderful legacy for our family,” Smith said. “She’s setting the path for the two little ones (Worsham’s siblings) and she’s a great example for teens.
“She cares about the people around her.”
As part of Worsham’s role, she will reach out to Skyline High School and the community to encourage others to participate in this new youth movement through service projects. She and the other team members plan to meet over the summer and will have conference calls to discuss progress around the country. “I will be trying to promote youths to volunteer – to tell them that you can do it without adults. You don’t have to be an adult to make a difference.”
She hopes to generate a high school rivalry of sorts in Ann Arbor over the coming year, she said: She wants to have a cross-town canned food drive next fall as a GenerationOn project.
Worsham has big plans for her future. She wants to be a plastic surgeon, something she was inspired to do when learning about Operation Smile, an international program that helps children with cleft palates get pro-bono surgeries. She is planning to enroll in the Early College Alliance @ Eastern Michigan University in the fall, which will allow her to continue her high school education while earning college credit at the same time and move her closer to her goal of medicine in a shorter time.
She is presently enrolled in the Business, Marketing and Information Technology Magnet program at Skyline and is involved with the school’s Forensics Team where she does oratory, is part of the Student Action Senate, is a member of the Skyline Debate Team and also volunteers with the American Red Cross where she assists with community blood drives.
Why is volunteering so important? “You don’t know who you can meet,” she said. “It shows you how different people live. It also brings joy to your life. It’s a joy.”
Casey Hans writes and edits this newsletter for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
E-mail her at or call 734-994-2090.