When she first started at St. Hubert, Amelia Hemphill wanted to get involved in as many activities as possible. She dabbled in everything, from sports like field hockey and bowling to clubs like Students Against Destructive Decisions and the school’s ministry club to holding a position on student council, helping organize events.
Even though her senior year was cut short, Hemphill’s hard work will pay off: She’ll head to the University of Pennsylvania with a full scholarship to study biology in the fall, whether it’s on campus or virtually. Despite her hard work, the news still came as a shock to the third oldest of six sisters being raised by a single mom.
“I cried when I found out. My mom cried, too,” she said.
Being so involved in the school eventually became something Hemphill was passionate about. But it started out as a coping mechanism.
In 2015, Hemphill’s father John passed away amid his struggle with addiction. Hemphill’s mother worked two or three jobs to make sure she was providing for her daughters, and while the family grieved, Hemphill decided to bury herself in schoolwork.
“I tried my hardest to set a good example for my younger sisters,” she said.
When she thinks of her dad, Hemphill remembers going out for ice cream or Taco Bell with him, now memories that serve as forms of comfort.
“She has his smile,” said Hemphill’s aunt, Kelly Daly. “Which is beautiful.”
Daly said she sees John’s devotion in Amelia, and it’s that same devotion to her academics and being a leader that helped her excel in school and get a full ride to Penn.
“Everything she’s ever done she’s made her family proud, and her father is watching from above smiling down,” Daly said.
Even though her senior year was cut short by the spread of COVID-19, Hemphill is graduating the school with many unforgettable experiences. One of her final memories of the class being together was in March at the school’s Dance-A-Rama, which raised $11,000 for Our Lady of Confidence School after students danced for six consecutive hours.
The event, which started when Hemphill’s class was in its sophomore year, became a tradition that her class helped start.
“It was like the class of 2020 was leaving its legacy behind,” she said.
As student council representative, Hemphill showed incoming freshmen and their families around the school and organized events like spirit day. She was also a member of the National Honor Society, and when she wasn’t at St. Hubert doing any of her numerous activities, she was working part time at Wawa.
At Penn she’s most looking forward to meeting new people, though with the pandemic ongoing, it’s unknown if her freshman year will see her on campus.
She’s not firmly set on what she hopes to do once she graduates with her degree – some days she considers being a doctor, and on other days, other goals cross her mind.
“I just know the main thing I want to do is help people,” she said.
Just like she helped her fellow students and her sisters. ••