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The Best and The Brightest of 2023



Age 17 | Senior
Hamilton High School
Saba Shakir knows the power of connection and adaptability. As a freshman in high school, she began volunteering at a local memory care center after writing a scientific essay for a class project on the mental health benefits of gardening for people suffering from dementia. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought volunteering to a halt, Shakir soon found herself feeling isolated and thinking about the impacts of quarantine on those living in memory care centers.

Rather than wait for volunteer opportunities to begin again, Shakir started writing cards and encouraging notes and delivering them to the memory care center. The response was overwhelming.

“We heard back from the director of the memory care center who said the residents loved it and it made their day,” said Shakir.

From there, her effort expanded into a volunteer group made up of a few friends. They officially became a Chandler Chapter of the Lionsheart Volunteer Organization and have spent the last three years delivering more than 200 handmade cards every month to three different memory care centers. Shakir researched card-making techniques and watched countless tutorials to improve her skills. She then started a small-scale business selling some of her cards, as a way to pay for the volunteer group’s ongoing supply needs.

When she is not making or delivering cards, Shakir is fostering connections within her high school. Whether guiding incoming freshmen as they adjust to a new campus, or bringing students of all backgrounds together as vice president of the “We Dine Together” club, Shakir is constantly looking for new ways to support and inspire others.

“Be open to new opportunities and new ideas,” said Shakir. “Don’t be afraid to change something and don’t just give up on a project just because of an obstacle.”

Saba will be attending ASU’s Barrett Honors College and plans to pursue a pre-med pathway with the hopes of becoming a pediatrician.
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