Busy teenager heads for Global Young Leaders Conference
Elizabeth Blankendal's after-school commitments may be getting ahead of her: the 16-year-old Berkeley Institute student just found out she's been chosen for this summer's Global Young Leaders Conference without even knowing who nominated her.“I didn't volunteer for it,” Elizabeth said. “I was nominated for Youth Philanthropist because my work with the Key Club, and for candy-striping at the hospital, my work mentoring kids at Northlands Middle School for YouthNet, and my mentoring Whitney Middle School girls that's the Young Ladies Club. I've got a lot on my plate, so I have to make sure it doesn't become overwhelming.”
“To be honest, I don't quite know how it happened,” Elizabeth said, after receiving a congratulatory e-mail on Tuesday.
“I do hope to attend the conference in the summer. There are options in China, Europe and the US. I'll get more information soon in the post. I'm still just anxious to find out who nominated me.”
The ten to 12-day conferences are run by Envision EMI, a US-based company which promotes international gatherings of school-age high achievers. If Elizabeth goes, she will have to fit it in with her Duke of Edinburgh gold medal trip to the Black Forest in Germany.
Her invitation also comes just after the S3 student's nomination for the Centre on Philanthropy's Youth Philanthropist of the Year for which Elizabeth was one of three finalists (the 2011 winner was Mariangela Bucci of the Bermuda High School).
The Key Club is a high school community service programme run by Kiwanis International. Elizabeth is currently the Key Club's youngest ever president.
She's also the Speaker of the House for the Bermuda Youth Parliament.
“It's great fun, and it's very good experience, good public speaking practice, especially if you're interested at all in politics. Personally, I want to become a family litigation lawyer.”
Elizabeth discovered her calling through the Berkeley Foundation's student leadership programme, which last summer allowed her to “shadow” lawyers at a variety of Bermudian firms, including Keren Lomas, a family and commercial mediator for Lomas and Co.
“Ms Lomas was great, a really feisty person, who let me run through pleadings with her and come down to court. It was really a great insight into the business, and that's where I got into it. I'm thinking I should look into corporate law too. I guess I just want to keep my avenues open wide I don't have any idea yet if I'd want to go away and work, but I do want to be called to the Bermuda Bar and to do my pupilage in Bermuda.”
All of this while studying for the upcoming GCSE exams plus the SAT makes it hard to find time to relax.
“I like watching movies with my friends, I love to cycle, and I like baking and eating what I've baked. I'm the older sister to three brothers, so it can get hectic around the house.”
Elizabeth lives in Devonshire with brothers Eusebio, 12, Isaiah, eight, and David, six, and proud parents Karen and Floyd Blankendal.
Her next wish beyond passing her exams: “I'd really love to do the one-year Rotary Exchange with the United World College,” she said. “If I could get in, I hope to visit Europe. My dad's from Holland, and I have family there. I could get to practice my Dutch.”
Useful web links: www.cylc.org, www.centreonphilanthropy.org.