Skip to main content

Team player, team leader

By Kaylene Eun

“I’m definitely a people person!” exclaimed Abby McGehee, a rising senior from Fort Worth, Texas. “That’s why I really enjoy community service.”

It’s precisely her love and care for people that’s led to her extensive involvement in three community service organizations. As president, no less.

Over the summer, McGehee has devoted countless hours to the Breakthrough Boutique, a unique nonprofit initiative that she oversees at her school, Fort Worth Country Day. The Breakthrough Boutique is a part of the larger Breakthrough program, which aims to provide academically enriching experiences for high-achieving public middle school students from underserved backgrounds.

The Breakthrough Boutique channels this spirit of altruism by giving underprivileged students a dignifying shopping experience that is—here’s the kicker—completely free.

“I love seeing the surprise on people’s faces,” McGehee, 17, said and chuckled. “Because sometimes people don’t know that it’s free, you know?”

The unprecedented COVID-19 situation has not dissuaded McGehee’s efforts. She’s spent the last month sorting and photographing more than 900 donations to feature on a website that she single-handedly created and designed. When asked where the hundreds of donations were stored, McGehee said, smiling sheepishly: “Everything is stored at my house. My parents aren’t too happy about it, but it’s worth it!”

This experience is just one of many that have helped spark her interest in media and communications, particularly in the areas of advertising and public relations. “I’m really glad that I took the opportunity to expand the (Breakthrough) program digitally as an alternative to the normal in-person shopping experience,” McGehee mused. “Social media is such a powerful tool.”

McGehee’s two other service organizations are the National Charity League, a philanthropy-based program that lets mothers and daughters volunteer together, and TEAM Service, a student-run club that holds fundraisers for her high school. In both of these organizations, she is committed to helping uplift disadvantaged communities.

McGehee is also a people-person beyond her community service activities. Before the school day starts, she can often be found in the library, tutoring lower school students in English or math. After the school day ends, she’s usually in the commons, where she practices complicated routines as a member of the varsity cheer team. Right after cheer practice, she heads to another dance practice.

“I’m never stressed about dancing,” McGehee said. “It’s something I do because I genuinely love to do it. I like the freedom that it gives me. ”

Although McGehee has also won many accolades and recognitions, her favorite aspect of dancing is the teamwork that it requires. And with a 14-year career in both classical ballet and competitive dance under her belt, she’s built many friendships that inspire her sense of curiosity and empathy for other people.