ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- In a field of five brothers, Mary Kate Truss has grown up knowing how to stand out.
"It's really fun. I mean, at first when I was like seven, I was like I would love a sister anytime," she joked.
The 18-year-old senior at Bishop Kenny High School is as devoted to her studies as she is volunteering.
She maintains a high grade point average while also holding down a job and babysitting.
But all of her volunteer work did not really get started for her until after a back surgery when she was younger.
Truss said, "All the nurses there were so great, and I was like if I can get through this surgery, I can give back to others."
From then on, she did just that.
Truss volunteers at the Mandarin Food Bank. She traveled to Haiti on a mission trip to help an orphanage after the earthquake. That trip is also when she made a big life decision.
"Just dealing with those babies, holding those little Haitian babies, I was like I have to do this for the rest of my life," she said.
Then on Wednesday morning, all of her hard work was rewarded with a surprise $1,000 Hero Next Door student scholarship from First Coast News.
Her dad is relieved to have the financial assistance and said, "The checks get bigger when they go to college, but yeah, that will be a great help. We very much appreciate it."
Her mother added, "Mary Kate has such a servant's heart. And she does so many things nobody even knows about."
Interestingly, Truss is a girl her parents describe as once afraid of doctors and hospitals. Now with the help of the scholarship and because of her devotion to others, the teen plans on becoming a nurse.
She said, "If I wasn't helping others, I would feel like I wasn't doing anything in this world. So helping others is just kind of part of who I am."
In the immediate future, Truss hopes to attend the University of North Florida to get her degree in nursing.
Be sure to keep your eyes on Good Morning Jacksonville to see the rest of the scholarship winners. We have five left.
The last one will be for $5,000, and it will be given out on May 22.
First Coast News