Name: Elinor “Ellie” Munson
Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
Why did you choose this major? I chose to major in psychology because it is the biggest aspect of my story. I had to go through a lot of therapy because of epilepsy and dyslexia. So, I had all of these really smart around me, who always had a presence in my life.
What career would you like to pursue? I don’t know that I would be going to college without my mentors’ intervening forces. So, I want to be a child psychologist for kids who don’t have a mentor in their life.
Why did you go to Honduras five times to help doctors with medical exams and dentistry? My grandfather, who is a vascular surgeon, took me there many times. I started improving in Spanish, and the more I became better, the more I pushed him to take me.
Honduras was like my second home, because it just became a place where I could be myself. It also became a place where I felt needed, and that was really cool. Honduras has the kindest people in the world, except for GC. Everyone here is so nice.
I liked the medical part of it, because I got to shadow my grandfather. My favorite thing was helping him give breast examinations. We caught someone’s early breast cancer. He was the only doctor she had seen in six or seven years. So, my grandfather and I were able to intervene and catch it. I’ve noticed that it’s better to have a career where you can help someone. My grandfather has pushed me toward a career in healthcare, I would say he’s one of my guiding forces as to why I want to be a child psychologist.
In addition to working with the Epilepsy Foundation and the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Explorers Program, what do you enjoy most about serving as a member of:
The Decatur Youth Council? Decatur is an extremely gentrified part of Atlanta. When I look at the problems in Decatur, I see a bunch of people who have gotten displaced from where they grew up. So gentrification is a big factor as to why I joined the Youth Council. Decatur Youth Council helped me connect with government officials on a local level. I learned that you can actually talk to your representatives and explain what is wrong and how it can be fixed.
The United Way Youth Board? This is a passion of mine. United Way does so many great things in so many different areas. I really enjoyed helping people in the college application process. There are kids who cannot afford to take the SAT or the ACT, so we raised funds for them to use for this purpose. And then I worked to help kids who are below the poverty line apply for college. So, when I was a senior applying for college, I also helped kids who didn’t have any support systems apply for college. I convinced them that they could go to college. So my most amazing experience with United Way was just helping people who didn’t know they could get help.
What did you do for the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia? Even though I have epilepsy, I haven’t had a seizure in five years, so I drive and do everything that a regular person would do. When I was in eighth grade I got diagnosed with it. So, I started giving presentations to educate my peers about neurological disorders and procedures and about how it doesn’t affect how smart or functioning you are. I also raised funds for the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia.
Out of all your community endeavors, which one means the most to you and why? My favorite one so far is working with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. My best friend and I raised $36,000 when we were sophomores. I plan to do a lot of this at GC. The Leukemia Lymphoma Society has enabled me to become a volunteer in everything I do in that it showed me at the age of 16 that I could be a philanthropist. And so at the age of 16 me and my best friend worked tirelessly to get $5,000 in sponsorships. We got our impact reports Tuesday, and over $100,000 has been raised based on my impact.
What’s a fun fact about you? I was named as one of the 20 under 20 students by Reporter Newspapers. It honors students who give back to their community. I never anticipated getting rewarded from doing service work. I always did it out loving and caring and having empathy for other people. But to get that recognition gives me a push to do it even more.