Abigail Wagner, a member of the Patterson Mill High School graduating Class of 2021, has two major passions — helping others and promoting mental health.
The 18-year-old Bel Air resident has anxiety and emphasizes the benefits of therapy and medication. She also served on Harford County Public Schools’ Student Mental Health Council.
“I want to help others understand that mental health is important and vital for our [physical] health,” Wagner said.
She plans to attend Brigham Young University in Utah in the fall, a school her parents, Isaac and Sara, graduated from in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Wagners are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and her parents’ alma mater is affiliated with the LDS church.
The school’s affiliation with her faith is part of the reason Abigail wants to attend Brigham Young, plus “Utah is gorgeous” and the school has “amazing teachers and professors,” she said.
“I’ve always grown up hearing about it, and so it felt right to go,” Wagner said.
Wagner is considering studying either nursing or sociology. A career in nursing would be in a field involving children, such as labor and delivery. A sociology major would go toward a career in social work, focused on helping children with their mental health needs.
“I think they’d probably mention my compassion,” Wagner said when asked what family and friends would say about her. “A lot of people always comment on it about me, about how I have a lot of compassion and love for others.”
She and her best friend, Nawal Adil, founded the service club Students Working to Effectively End Poverty, or SWEEP, in 2018. The club works on advocacy and fundraising to combat global issues such as water crises, poverty and homelessness. Members worked with the Los Angeles-based Thirst Project to raise money to ensure 45 people in a village in the African nation of Eswatini have clean drinking water.
Adil was the club’s vice president and Wagner was president, but new officers have been elected and are working on projects for next year, Wagner said.
She was able to get “out of my shell that I put around myself in middle school,” as she learned about the symptoms of anxiety in health class, which led to treatment and excelling in school activities.
“I feel like I really blossomed in high school, and I’m proud of that,” Wagner said, describing her teachers as “so supportive and nice.”
Sara Wagner noted her daughter’s artistry and creativity, as well as her compassion and empathy, traits she said stem from caring for her younger brothers.
“I’m really proud of the time she spent serving others,” she said of Abigail’s high school career.
Wagner is looking forward to “everything” in the future, noting her desire to keep helping people.
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“I am so excited to meet new people and find more resources, and work with others to be able to help more than I already have,” she said.