2021-22 Student Ambassador Bios

Meet the 2021-22 Blanchet House Student Ambassadors

Our ambassadors actively engage with their community by leading events and projects that support our mission.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Carolyn Paxton

Carolyn Paxton
She/Her
Franklin High School

Carolyn Paxton is a senior at Franklin High School. She was first introduced to Blanchet house by her mom who worked at the old Blanchet house building. She now volunteers regularly, usually for the Friday night dinners, and is looking forward to increasing her support of Blanchet’s mission by being a Student Ambassador. Volunteer work has also been a huge aspect of her life from a young age, and she’s been volunteering at various organizations since she was 11. Drawing and painting are some of her passions, and she considers them a grounding activity. If she could change one thing in the world it would be how we treat the planet and each other. If humans were a little more conscious and respectful of our world overall, we would improve as a society. Like for example switching from fossil fuels to clean energy solutions, not supporting companies that promote fast fashion, creating a better healthcare system, building more affordable housing, de-criminalizing drugs, etc. overall if we were more empathetic to the planet and each other things would improve.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Jacquelyn Barnett

Jacquelyn Barnett
She/Her
Mt. Scott Learning Center

Jacquelyn Barnett attends Mt Scott Learning Center. Outside of school and her time at the Blanchet House, she plays coed soccer and works at Burgerville. She keeps her hands busy by painting, drawing, knitting, and crocheting. She owns two rescue dogs, Duce and Buddy, and to tell you a secret she prefers the 90lbs Duce to the 15-pound Buddy as Buddy is a total “momma’s boy.” Next year she hopes to study international relations while learning about the world abroad. Once outside of college, she hopes to work for organizations like the American Red Cross. As a student ambassador, she plans to expand the program in order to include more schools and engage a wider range of the population. She emphasizes finding unity in hopes of bettering the community. “We are all human, we should all be helping each other instead of putting each other down.”

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Jamie Mack

Jamie Mack
She/Her
Northwest Academy

Jamie Mack attends Northwest Academy and is in her second year of being a student ambassador for Blanchet House. In school, she is president of the thespian board, co-leads the social justice club, and co-leads a female-identifying group. She has been in seven school theater productions and enjoys writing music. During quarantine, she produced a song on Spotify. Jamie’s other hobbies include hiking, film photography, and attempting to convince people why oat milk is the superior alternative milk. In the future, she hopes to get her BFA in musical theater with a minor in political science. She recognizes she has a lot of privilege in life, and feels she should use it to benefit others, recognizing that everyone deserves respect as a human. Whatever she does, she likes to get her hands dirty, get involved in, and strives to make the community a better place.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Jeannie Feng

Jeannie Feng
She/Her
Jesuit High School

Jeannie Feng is a junior at Jesuit High School. She has always loved learning new things. When she was younger she loved spending hours reading at Powell’s Books. Jeannie’s current interests are music, philosophy, medical sciences, and biochemistry. Some of her hobbies include playing the violin and guitar, playing with her foster rabbit, producing music, and reading. She has participated in competitive Ultimate Frisbee and played on the 2021 Oregon Gender Diverse Nationals Team. Jeannie enjoys volunteer work and has completed 250 hours since November of 2020 with plans to keep contributing to the community. At one event, Jeannie participated in a panel about homelessness which featured Kayse Jama, a State Senator in Portland.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Kate Rodgers

Kate Rodgers
She/Her
Ida B. Wells

Kate Rodgers is a junior at Ida B. Wells High School. She was first introduced to the Blanchet House four years ago through the National Charity League and has continued to dedicate her time here, as it has always been a place she enjoys volunteering. Her favorite aspects of Blanchet are the close contact with those she is serving and the welcoming atmosphere of the facility. Recently, Kate ran a sack lunch drive through Youth Charity League, where she is a student liaison, and donated them to Blanchet as a way to stay involved in the pandemic. In her spare time, she can be found playing both high school and club volleyball and tennis. This will be Kate’s second time as one of Blanchet’s student ambassadors and she looks forward to connecting with her greater community each time she comes into volunteer.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Nash Newton

Nash Newton
He/Him
Central Catholic

Nash Newton is a junior at Central Catholic and is on the cross country and tennis teams. He has a twin brother and loves to hike, kayak, and explore Portland with his rescue dog. He enjoys music, learning about new cultures and has traveled to Europe, Canada, Japan, Hawaii, and around the United States. Nash is interested in finding solutions to issues related to homelessness in Portland. He volunteers regularly with the Blanchet House and other local organizations and was recently part of a semester-long program studying homelessness through JOIN. He is excited to be a Blanchet House Student Ambassador so he can let his school community know about its impact and opportunities to help.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Ria Kamineni

Ria Kamineni
She/Her
Oregon Episcopal School

Ria Kamineni is a sophomore at Oregon Episcopal School. She is 16 years old and has an older brother who is a sophomore in college. Born in Salem and now living in Lake Oswego, she is an Oregon native and likes Oregon weather, hiking, and being close to the mountains and the coast. Ria’s favorite subjects are math and art. In her free time, she enjoys drawing, playing the piano, dancing, and playing soccer. She has a dog that took a year to convince her parents to get. Ria has volunteered at Blanchet House for a while now, usually working the dinner shift. She is passionate about the issues of homelessness and food insecurity and hopes to be an inspiration to others to get them more involved.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Sabina Alamo-Selis

Sabina Alamo-Selis
She/Her
Alliance High School at Meeks

Sabina Alamo-Selis is a 10th grade student at Alliance High School at Meeks. She was born in Portland and her favorite aspect of Oregon is the rain. She has an older brother who is a freshman in college. In her free time, Sabina enjoys baking and traveling. Right now, her favorite subject in school is a gardening course and she hopes to get more into the hobby outside of school. Sabina has much experience in volunteering at Blanchet House. She has come in with her family and by herself to serve and prep food as well as sort clothing. Sabina has also volunteered at Ronald McDonald, which is a non-profit organization built to support programs that improve the health and well-being of children. Some causes she is passionate about are food insecurity and immigration.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Sierra Smith

Sierra Smith
She/Her
Lincoln High School

Sierra Smith is a sophomore at Lincoln High School and has lived in Portland her whole life. She first got involved with Blanchet House with her mom when she was too young to go on her own and has been volunteering for three years now. As an ambassador, Sierra is excited to witness the inner workings of Blanchet House, as it is such a successful organization. Sierra participates in a wide variety of extracurriculars at Lincoln, including Communicare Club, Environmental Justice Club, and year-round soccer. In her free time, Sierra does horseback riding, plays piano along with other instruments, and takes care of her dog, Rocky, and her foster bunny, Mayonnaise. Sierra is inspired by youth activists who start their work at such a young age out of necessity, like Greta Thunberg. In the future, Sierra hopes to be an environmental engineer or a biologist.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Sofia Shurko

Sofia Shurko
She/Her
Sherwood High School

Sofia Shurko is a junior at Sherwood High School. She has been volunteering at the Blanchet House for three years and is now excited to get involved in the community in a bigger way and be a part of society as a student ambassador. Sofia has one sister, one cat, and one dog. Her top interests are dancing, watching TV, and eating all sorts of foods, and her favorite subject in school is math. Sofia decided that if she could be any animal she would be a turtle, and if she could do one thing right now it would be to dance with all her friends without a mask on. Her favorite movies are anything Marvel, her favorite show is Reign, and her favorite songs are anything by James Bay.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Sophia Fields

Sophia Fields
She/Her
Catlin Gabel

Sophia Fields is a senior at Catlin Gabel. She was born in San Francisco and moved to Portland when she was six. During the fall, Sophia runs cross country, plays tennis, and volunteers at another non-profit in Portland called Gather Make Shelter. She enjoys making all types of art including drawings or making collages. She finds inspiration in both of her parents, her dad a brain surgeon, and her mom a ceramist. At home, she has two pets; a golden Retriever named Mo, and a cat named Morgan. Sophia is passionate about food sustainability and recently learned about Blanchet House and signed up to volunteer. After her first shift, she immediately wanted to get more involved and signed up for more. She became a Student Ambassador because she wanted to become more involved and engaged with the houseless issue in Portland.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador - Stella Banks

Stella Banks
She/Her
Riverdale

Stella Banks is a Sophomore at Riverdale High School. She first connected with Blanchet House in the Summer of 2020 during the height of the Covid 19 pandemic. She began working in the kitchen four days a week to serve lunch to those experiencing houselessness in our community. As a student ambassador, Stella wants to help Blanchet House on its mission to raise awareness among other teens about the houselessness so many experience in Portland. Stella spent her elementary school years in a Spanish immersion school and hopes that being bilingual will give her more of an opportunity to help with guest communications when needed. She is currently involved in student government and would like to encourage her school to become more involved. Stella is grateful for the opportunity to learn from those most impacted by houselessness about how to make real, lasting change.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Tom Thake

Tom Thake
He/Him
Grant High School

Tom Thake is a Senior at Grant High School. He was first introduced to Blanchet House 2020 when looking for local nonprofits to support with a student-led fundraiser he created in his screen-printing class. Over the summer, he worked as an intern, helping to conduct the dinner service, coordinate afternoon volunteers, and take steps to improve the clothing service, and is excited to continue supporting the nonprofit as a Student Ambassador. Outside of Blanchet House, Tom works at a local running store, is the leader of Music Talk Club, is a member of the student council, is team captain of the Grant cross-country team, and is a member of the Grant constitution team. He spends his weekends selling running shoes, discussing the intricacies of constitutional law, and debating critical cultural topics like whether Kanye is superior to Drake. He hopes to take his experiences at Blanchet House to help work towards long-term solutions for houselessness once he leaves high school.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Veronika Lizier-Zmudzinski

Veronika Lizier-Zmudzinski
She/Her
Jesuit High School

Veronika Lizier-Zmudzinski is a junior at Jesuit High School. Her favorite subject in school is Spanish. She has one sister, two brothers, and one dog. If she had to choose to be any animal in the world, she would choose to be a dog. Her favorite movie genre is romantic comedies, and her favorite TV show is Criminal Minds. Her interests include dancing (ballet), traveling around the world, and trying new foods. Veronika enjoys listening to Italian Pop, and if she could do anything in the world, she would choose to travel to Italy. Veronika has been volunteering at Blanchet House for over a year. This year, she is most excited to work more directly toward the homeless population.

Blanchet House Student Ambassador Violet Ashley

Violet Ashley
She/Her
St. Mary’s Academy

Violet Ashley is a junior at St. Mary’s Academy and has been volunteering at the Blanchet House since she was in sixth grade. She recently became more involved with the organization during the pandemic and volunteers weekly. Violet is drawn to the friendly staff and welcoming environment of the Blanchet House that helps contribute to an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience. She wanted to be a student ambassador this year to become even more involved and create a greater impact in her community. In her free time, Violet loves to play bass guitar, make art, read and this year is an Outdoor School counselor. She is excited to meet the other ambassadors and work with them on more projects to raise awareness in our communities.