- Ari Axler, senior
- The Weber School
Most high school seniors struggle to build their first resume. Ari Axler’s resume rivals those of professionals twice her age. The 18-year-old Weber School senior’s accomplishments fill two pages – and that’s just from high school.
Ari’s community service began in seventh grade, when she recruited friends and family to host a sports day for SOAR, a Marcus Jewish Community Center program for people with disabilities. Today, Ari is founder and president of Take A Swing, a tennis program for children at risk that is run entirely by teen volunteers, who double as tennis coaches and informal mentors.
In between, this tireless young woman has left her mark on more than a dozen programs, including Student Government (president), Israel Action Fellows, National Honor Society, Governor’s Honors and the Hands on Atlanta Youth Service Advisory Board (vice president).
“What makes me happiest is to get other people involved,” she says. “That’s what kept me going. Even when everyone gets apathetic, I like other people to [volunteer] and realize how they can make a difference.”
An accomplished tennis player, Ari is passionate about Take A Swing, a tennis program for economically disadvantaged children that also teaches life skills, sportsmanship, self-confidence and perseverance. The non-profit program hosts group lessons year round and two summer camps, and has served over 350 children since 2007.
Ari recruited her sisters, Ilana and Eden, to help lead Take A Swing, but when she and co-founder Melody Yin leave for college next year, they want more teens to take the reins and learn the satisfaction of doing for others, and Ari has advice for them.
“Don’t get intimidated by the task. It might seem huge, but if you take it slowly, you’ll find there is a lot of support out there and people who want to help,” she explains. “I tell everyone ‘Go for it!’ if you want to do something.”
Ari, the daughter of Drs. Joel Axler and Louise Short of Sandy Springs, also is a top student. Her long list of awards, accomplishments and activities includes the Yale Book Award (2009) for exceptional academic promise; the Nike Gamechangers Youth Social Entrepreneur Award (2009) for sports-related community achievement; and the Amit Youth Volunteer of the Year Award (2007) for her leadership in programs for children with developmental disabilities.
She is also a finalist for the Coca-Cola Scholar, a prestigious college scholarship awarded to students who “demonstrated leadership in academics, school, community and civic activities, as well as personal character and the motivation to serve and succeed.
“I love making people happy and organizing programs, that’s what got me started,” she says. I think everyone should do for others. Once you start you just don’t stop doing it.”
As she looks ahead to college, Ari remains undecided about where she will go. She’s been accepted at top schools and elite programs, and is in the running for community service scholarships. Next year, she’ll follow another passion – her love for Israel. She plans to travel there with the Young Judea Year Course and to become certified as an Emergency Medical Technician while she volunteers for Magen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross).