Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Once again, the Foundation had the opportunity this summer to host an intern from the Fairfax County Public Library through the Fairfax County Youth Leadership Program (FCYLP). FCYLP is designed to educate and motivate local high school students to become engaged citizens and leaders in their community through participation in monthly learning sessions, completion of a three-week paid internship in a Fairfax County department, and by acting as ambassadors for the program.
Rebeka Rafi is a 16-year-old rising senior at McLean High School. This summer, Rebeka is helping the Foundation by crafting content for our social media channels and blog, and by assisting with day-to-day tasks in our office. We are so grateful to have an extra helping hand for a few weeks!
Tell us about yourself in 30-seconds:
I'm 16 years old and a rising senior at McLean High School. I've been taking journalism for the past four years, next year will be my fifth. I like to be outside and play sports, primarily soccer which I've been playing for the past ten years. When I was younger, I lived on the west coast in Orange County, California. I have an older sister who just graduated from George Mason University. My whole family is very close.
You mention soccer as being your top sport. Did you watch the Women's World Cup?
Yes, I was so excited to see the US Women's National Soccer Team win the World Cup, especially now that they want to display a message to the world relating to issues other than just soccer. Now that they won, they have the platform to do it. It was cool to see female athletes do something like that.
Now that high school is almost over, what have you liked most about it?
I like the freedom you're given as you get older, like with your schedule and the classes you choose. After a while, you get into a tempo of doing things on your own. I've really enjoyed making new friends, which makes class more exciting. Also, building connections with teachers and them being able to see you grow up, especially if you're close to certain teachers. The whole experience has been challenging, but challenging yourself to do your very best will help in the future.
Why did you decide to apply for FCYLP?
Previously, I was in the Arlington Youth Leadership Program, so I thought it would be a good experience if I did another leadership program, just in my own county this time. The previous program focused more on philanthropy work and working with nonprofits, but I also wanted to learn more about our local government, so that's why I applied for this program. I knew I would get better insight and understanding on how it works. I also knew it would be a good opportunity to meet other people who work in local government to see if I would have an interest in [working in this field] in the future.
Where do you see yourself after high school and in the future?
I would like to have a profession in the medical field. Becoming a pediatrician was a dream of mine since I was younger because I love working with kids. I'm thinking about studying biology and minoring in journalism because I've been taking it for so long. I'm looking at schools in DC including The George Washington University and Georgetown University because they both have good science programs and schools of medicine that I can apply to. I'm so close to my family, so it would feel weird going far away because I'm used to seeing them every day.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like being active. If I'm not playing soccer, I'm playing another sport. I also like to write. I've taken journalism forever, so writing is really fun to me. I also tutor when I have time, and sometimes coach younger kids in soccer as well. I also really like solving the Rubik's Cube. I learned it in the summer after 5th grade and I've been obsessed with improving my time since then. One minute and 26 seconds is my record so far.
What are your favorite places in Fairfax County?
I would suggest visiting Great Falls Park because it has so much to see and do. You can walk on the trails, see a beautiful waterfall, and have a picnic. They also have a recreation center in the middle of it, so there are lots of things that kids can learn. It's a really great way to get outdoors.
Do you have a favorite place to eat?
I like Chipotle, of course. It's a classic! There's also a Greek place in Vienna called Skorpio's Maggio's Greek Family Restaurant. The owner of the restaurant has known our family forever. He knows everyone by name, and their gyros are excellent.
Last question, what is something people might not know about you?
There are three things, actually:
1. People at my school might not know that I'm the advertising manager of our school's award-winning news magazine, The Highlander. I'm either contacting people by phone or email to sell ads that fund the magazine. There's usually a team of people doing this, but I'm the only one doing it at my school. Next year, I'll be in the same position plus managing editor.
2. I'm introverted, but I feel like once you get to know me, I'm more of an extrovert.
3. I mentioned that I definitely want to pursue a medical career, but based on my experiences in the Government Center, I feel like [local government] would be of interest to me in the future. It's definitely expanded my horizons and sparked an interest.