Written by Zoe Engels, Blog Contributor
In Spring 2021, SODA at Chelsea High School became the first SODA chapter in the state of Alabama. Mya Wells, the chapter’s founding President, graduated in May 2022 with plans to attend the University of North Alabama this coming fall. We had the chance to catch up with Mya and learn more about her and her experiences as a SODA chapter leader.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I graduated from Chelsea High School in May 2022 where I served as the founding President of our SODA chapter, Treasurer of our HOSA - Future Health Professionals chapter, and Costume Manager for Out of the Blue show choir. I completed Health Science Internship clinicals at Shelby Baptist Medical Center and Heart South Cardiovascular Group, and I earned Certified Clinical Medical Assistant & Certified Patient Care Technician credentials through the Chelsea High School Healthcare Academy. I recently took a Surgical Technician position at Clark Holmes Smith Oral Facial Surgery where I have been working over the summer. I am also active in my youth group at church, and I love to hang out with my friends. I will be attending the University of North Alabama in the Fall where I plan to major in Nursing.
What inspired you to join SODA?
After learning about organ transplants and the importance of organ donation registration from our Healthcare Academy classes, our instructor Mrs. Andrea Maddox shared that there was a way we could make a difference through starting a SODA chapter. With Mrs. Maddox's help, my friends and I had the honor of establishing the first SODA chapter in the state of Alabama at Chelsea High School in May 2021, and we have been working to grow our chapter ever since.
What does organ donation advocacy mean to you, and why do you think it is so important?
I am passionate about organ donation advocacy and educating others on the importance of becoming an organ donor because many people do not understand that one person's decision to become an organ donor can save 8 people's lives and positively change many more. Being a SODA member gives students like me the training and support to be an effective organ donation advocate for life.
What has been your favorite event that your chapter has hosted?
My favorite SODA event we hosted was Donuts for Donors. We held the event at our school on Blue & Green Day during National Donate Life Month in April. It was a fun event where we educated and registered 40 new organ donors! Every new organ donor received a delicious donut to celebrate their decision to give the Gift of Life, and we also celebrated over 100 students who were already organ donors by sharing a donut with them as well.
Can you tell us about some other events your chapter has hosted this year?
Another event our chapter participated in was speaking to our school system's administrators about the importance of supporting students in creating new SODA chapters within their schools. Dr. LaToya Bishop from our OPO partner Legacy of Hope spoke as well, and she shared about how Legacy of Hope can provide training and support for new SODA chapters. We also hosted a mini Donuts for Donors event with the administrators so they could see what a SODA event would be like at their own school.
How has your high school community reacted to SODA as a club? What are interactions at tabling and other events like?
Our high school had a great response to our chapter in terms of membership and events. Our chapter grew to over 40 members this school year, which was great! Our SODA members were excited to learn more about what it means to be an organ donation advocate during our club meetings and then talk to their friends about registering to be an organ donor at events. We had lots of students come ask questions and then decide to register as organ donors, which was very rewarding!
Does SODA at Chelsea High School have any exciting event ideas in mind for next semester?
Some new event ideas our chapter discussed for this upcoming school year are celebrating our local DMV employees during National DMV Appreciation Month in September, visiting with our school's Driver's Education classes to educate new drivers on the importance of organ donation registration, and partnering with our OPO Legacy of Hope for an exciting tabling event at Alabama's HOSA - Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference to register new organ donors and recruit new SODA chapters to our state. I am also considering starting a SODA chapter at my college once I move and get settled in.
Thanks for being an organ donation advocate, Mya! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.
If you’re interested in starting a SODA chapter or hosting an event, visit sodanational.org/students.