LIMA - Volunteering for Ellie Ryan has served multiple purposes.
The Lima Central Catholic High School student first gets to help others. Secondly, she's getting a dose of what her future might look like.
Ellie spent last summer volunteering in the pediatrics rehabilitation unit at St. Rita's Medical Center. She'll return this summer before heading off to college to study premedical.
"I thought it was a good idea to go and get some exposure," she said. "And I like helping people."
Ellie caught the volunteer bug last year when she took part in Big Brothers Big Sisters for her school service project. She continues this year to work with kindergartners at Liberty Elementary School. She goes to the school once a week during study hall.
"I really liked it last year," she said. "It really amazes me. They are so different from the kids I grew up with. And they are still so innocent in kindergarten. It's nice to be a role model for them."
Ellie has also helped at an equestrian therapy program, where autistic children learn to ride horses. She has three horses, so the work was a natural fit.
Ellie is captain of LCC's swim team and a member of the Spanish Club. She used to run track and be a member of the cheerleading squad. She still cheers for the Aerials All-Star competition cheerleading group in Wapakoneta. The group competes around the state and won a national championship last year.
"I just really enjoy performing in front of people," she said. "I really like the adrenaline rush, people clapping for you."
A member of the National Honor Society, Ellie maintains a 4.4 grade-point average. She recently found out she's ranked second in her class. Ellie, who also skis, has been accepted at both The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. Choosing OSU was an easy decision.
"I want to be a Buckeye," she said. "My family has gone to Ohio State. It feels like home."
Ellie is interested in sports medicine or orthopedics. They sound more interesting than something like brain surgery, she said.
"That just sounds crazy," she said. "With orthopedics, they leave you when they're healthy and smiling."