Bishop Luers High School, Fort Wayne
Salutatorian Olivia Neher
Being part of a community that stands for life is important to Bishop Luers High School salutatorian Olivia Neher. When she was young, she dreamed of attending a National Right to Life March in Washington, D.C.; as a high school student, she finally was able to go. The experience was surreal, she said; she was part of a pilgrimage that included crowds no one could count, and the energy was high as she stood among other like-minded people who shared her belief in protecting defenseless human life. “I was proud to stand there with everyone and have a voice to express what I believe is right. This experience really showed me the power of unity,” she said.
During high school, Neher focused her time on activities such as Key Club, soccer, Knights for Life, Peer Ministry, Big Brothers Big Sisters and National Honor Society. She said one of her favorite memories from high school was on the soccer field.
“I’m a defender, but at the end of a game we were winning by something like 5-0 and my coach put me in as forward so I could try to score. All the girls on my team were yelling and screaming and cheering me on. They continually gave me the ball so I could try to score. I didn’t end up getting a goal, even though I was so close; but it was so much fun for me and the whole team.”
Neher is a burgeoning pianist. She plays mostly classical pieces such as Schubert, Mozart and Bach, but also studies music theory, key signatures and scales, chord progressions, terms and aural theory. She said she feels as though her practice and hard work playing piano is starting to pay off, because now she is capable of more complex pieces.
In addition to her experience at the National March for Life, Neher said hosting a Japanese exchange student made a huge impact on her faith because she had to be intentional in explaining the parts of the Mass and the significance of what happens during the liturgy. She elaborated that “with the language barrier, it was hard to communicate to her what we were doing, but it also helped me to take a step back and reflect on each part of the Mass and the significance of it. By trying to explain it to Rina, I was reflecting myself on what it all meant and why we go to Mass. I learned as much from Rina as she did from me.” By building a relationship with the Japanese student, Neher also was able to experience Fort Wayne through the eyes of a tourist, going places such as Sky Zone and DeBrand, playing laser tag and visiting the Botanical Gardens and the mall.
With plans to attend Butler University this fall to study health sciences, Neher shared why the field of study is important to her.
“My faith will help me to be a compassionate, giving health care worker. It has always been taught to care for the sick, and I want to be able to do that while also treating them as a child of God — with compassion and kindness.”
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