Celita Summa

female-silhouetteCelita Summa is from Tallahassee, Florida, and has served her school’s newspaper, The Tomahawk Talk, as a staff writer for two years, Assistant Editor for one year, and will serve next year as Editor-in-Chief. Outside of school, she is involved in multiple clubs and service organizations, such as National Honor Society, Key Club, and Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society, along with volunteering at the local animal shelter. Celita is currently working toward her black belt.

Sharing the Stories of History

By Caroline Wolfe

Celita Summa visits nursing homes, not to see elderly relatives, but to collect stories for posterity.

Summa, 17, has been collecting personal stories for a year and a half, gathering information from sources as diverse as Holocaust survivors and Peace Corps workers.

“One of the most emotional moments was when one of the Holocaust survivors was talking to us. Even though she came from a position of privilege, she had to undergo many hardships, including starvation,” Summa said.

This woman shared a story from her childhood. Everyone was starving, so she broke into an old school with some of her friends. They found expired food in the cafeteria and started grabbing bags to take home.

But when she returned home, excited by her discovery, her father instructed her to return the food. For him, it was more important to be honest than to be nourished.

Summa collects these stories not just for her own benefit, but also for local teachers so that they can use these real-life experiences to enrich their students’ education.

“When you read a history textbook,” Summa said, “you don’t think about it in terms of actual people.” Her goal is to make history come to life instead of remaining static on the page.

Summa is also passionate about building strong, healthy communities. Through her involvement in Key Club, a student community service club, she is working with other students to eliminate Maternal/Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) through fundraising.

Every January, her division of Key Club hosts a “Night to Eliminate,” which is a student-run fundraising banquet, raising money for preventive vaccinations against MNT. Then Key Club sends the proceeds to UNICEF, which uses the money in countries that need assistance.

But for Summa, the best part about Key Club is being able to learn from and relate to other communities in Florida as they work together to eliminate disease.

“Everyone’s very different, but all of those differences are valuable, and when it comes to accomplishing a goal, what sets you apart can also bring you together.”

Summa’s regard for community even spills over into her choice of career. She dreams of becoming an urban planner and pursuing further studies in mathematics or architecture. Asked why she is interested in urban planning, Summa said: “As communities change and grow, so do the people inside them. It’s amazing to see the growth of people over time reflected in their communities.”