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From Rotary World, April 2006
By Abby Breitstein
Rotary International News
Ruby Powers laughingly calls herself a "Rotary lifer," even though she has yet to join a Rotary club.
"I got started with Interact in high school, and then I spent two summers doing RYLA," says Powers, who is from San Antonio, Texas, USA. In her senior year, she attended a presentation by returned Youth Exchange participants and was struck by one similarity. "Every single one of them said, 'It was the best year of my life.'" Soon, Powers was in her own predeparture orientation for her year in Verviers, Belgium.
After attending the University of Texas at Austin, where she became president of her Rotaract club, Powers was ready for her next Rotary adventure. In the summer of 2004, she left for Barcelona, Spain, as an Ambassadorial Scholar. She had no plans for a service project, but right after she arrived, one found her.
"I got an e-mail about a woman whose son had a rare metabolic disease that could only be successfully treated by a doctor in Barcelona," she says. The family needed a place to stay, and Powers knew just whom to ask: the Rotary Club of Barcelona Millennium, who hosted her. Soon, she was the contact person for families from around the world, each with a very sick child.
As she learned more about the disease and the Manuela Martinez Foundation, which supports work to treat it, Powers began talking to clubs and, last June, organized a fundraising dinner. She now says the foundation has become a personal project.
Back in the United States and in her first year of law school, Powers is grateful to Rotary for her Ambassadorial Scholarship. "[The message isn't] get a 4.0 and hole up in your room studying. It's go out there, build bridges, learn, and connect the world. I love that."
Learn about the Manuela Martinez Foundation at www.martinezfoundation.org.
This article originally appeared in the April 2006 issue of Rotary World.