Whether it’s a toy, a special snack while at the grocery store, a few extra dollars, or permission to join a friend on vacation, kids can be very persuasive when they want something from their parents. When Ava Mottola decided that she wanted to transfer to OLMA, she knew she needed to be convincing, so she turned to Powerpoint. “I asked them to sit down and then presented a Powerpoint on why I needed to be at OLMA,” she said. “I still keep it on my computer!”
Needless to say, they bought it — hook, line and sinker — and Ava joined OLMA as a sophomore. “I wanted a sisterhood,” said Ava. “I was an only child until I came to OLMA and found my sisters.” Ava says she also enjoys the feeling of belonging and being known for who she really is. “At OLMA, I’m not just a face in a large crowd,” she said. “I can express myself freely without worry and feel appreciated for who I am. OLMA is a place where you feel more you.”
Now a senior, Ava is grateful for the opportunities that she has had as an OLMA student. “I want to become a special education teacher and work in an elementary school,” she said. “I know that because of the opportunities I’ve had to test out my career choice. Last year, I shadowed an elementary school teacher in Vineland and loved it. As part of senior Religion my classmates and I visit an area elementary school class every week in service to the students and teachers there. Last summer I chose to spend my Mini-Mester at St. John of God. I spent an entire week working with children and adults with disabilities. The combination of these experiences cemented my decision to pursue a career in Special Education.”
Ava, who serves as Secretary of the OLMA Interact Club, thrives on service and has made it a part of her everyday life. “I volunteer whenever I can and really enjoy it,” she said. “I especially liked the service we did in Camden at a thrift shop and school as part of our senior retreat. These are experiences that you just can’t get anywhere else.”
When asked if she had any words of wisdom for the young women who will be joining OLMA in the fall, Ava emphasized the importance of surrounding yourself with people who really care about the real you. She found that at OLMA and says that you will too.