Future First Citizen Award
2018 Future First Citizen
Catherine Somoza, Oregon Episcopal School
The Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors® will present their annual Portland Future First Citizen Award and $5,000 scholarship to Catherine Somoza, a senior at Oregon Episcopal School, at the April 26th Portland First Citizen Banquet at The Nines. PMAR’s Future First Citizen Award honors a high school senior in the Portland metropolitan area who has made an extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of life in his or her community.
Somoza has been a member of the Washington County Search and Rescue (SAR) team since she graduated from the training academy at age 14. In the last four years, she has volunteered over 1,000 hours with the post. She chose SAR because it was the most unique form of community service she had ever encountered and because through SAR she could literally save lives.
As a SAR volunteer, Somoza has participated in searches for missing hikers, hunters, mushroom pickers and campers in wilderness settings, and for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in urban environments. Some of the searches have been for evidence of major crimes including bullet casings, knives, poison and other weapons. SAR skills and services are called upon by police agencies across the state, and Somoza has participated in searches that range from the coast to eastern Oregon. She has also volunteered her time at community events such as safety fairs, crime prevention and community dinners.
Somoza says that she is passionate about volunteering because “It makes me uncomfortable. Volunteering with SAR takes you out of your comfort zone and pushes you past your physical and emotional limits. On a search, we are always aware that there is a human life on our hands and family members putting all of their faith in us to bring their loved ones home safely.” She says that this struggle reminds her that she has “the power to do good, and it allows me to change our world in the little ways that I can. Service is not easy, but that is why I love it.”
Somoza is planning to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering with a focus on genetics. She hopes to pursue a career with a research institution that is working to cure diseases. She wants to serve humanity and better the world through scientific research.
This award is in recognition of a currently enrolled Portland metropolitan area high school senior who
has made an extraordinary commitment to improving his/her community.
Nominations for 2019 will begin in the fall.
2006 Kevin Wong, Clackamas High School
2007 Dustin Skoubo, David Douglas High School
2008 Lynette Blunck, Canby High School
2009 Dana Bacharach, Lincoln High School
2010 Amy Elaine Carlton, Lake Oswego High School
2011 Kelsey West, Riverdale High School
2012 Sean Sakaguchi, Tigard High School
2013 Sophia Kecskes, Cleveland High School
2014 Jacquelyn Nelson, Centennial High School
2015 Katherine Carter, Lake Oswego High School
2016 Clare McLeod, St. Mary’s Academy
2017 Mark Yazhari, Lake Oswego High School
2018 Catherine Somoza, Oregon Episcopal School