Medicine and theatre aren’t often mentioned in the same breath, but the two surprisingly similar passions are what power Erica Mitchell.
The 18-year-old Miles Macdonell Collegiate Grade 12 student received one of six Student Citizenship Awards, including a $500 scholarship, at the Manitoba School Boards Association’s convention at the Delta Winnipeg on March 13. She received the award primarily for her work with Kiwanis International and Manitoba Theatre for Young People.
Mitchell said she plans to take some combination of theatre and pre-medical classes in university, depending which school she ends up attending. It’s a combination that sounds unusual on the surface, but is more alike than one might think, according to Mitchell’s ACT Exam results.
"They put me (as) excelling in ideas, and they had theatre and medicine right next to each other," she recalled. "It’s the same thought process. It’s just a different way of applying the thought process.
"You’re always on your feet. You have to know what you’re doing. You have to have something memorized, but something can go wrong at any minute and you have to be able to adapt."
One of the beneficiaries of Mitchell’s goodwill is Kiwanis International, which is called Key Club at the high school level. Mitchell serves as president of the Miles Mac Key Club and lieutenant governor for Manitoba as part of her seventh year with the organization. She said she had the type of personality that encouraged her to get involved early at Valley Gardens Middle School.
"I got to junior high and I was like ‘Let’s do things!’" she said, noting she’d been able to immediately take on leadership positions in Builders Club, as Kiwanis initiatives are known at the junior high level.
The major initiative Mitchell has helped with through Kiwanis is Project Eliminate, which is working to eradicate tetanus worldwide by next year. Mitchell said three shots at $1.80 apiece are all a mother needs to keep the disease, which affects the nervous system, from infecting her and her children.
The Key Club also hosts a monthly bake sale in support of different organizations, including recently supporting the Abbey Delaney Ruchkall Trust Fund to support young people in the arts.
The fund was created in memory of a former student and friend of Mitchell who died suddenly last summer at the age of 19. The two became close working on school productions together.
"It meant a lot that my club was able to support me in that," Mitchell said. "Abbey was a really good friend of mine."
Mitchell learned plenty about adapting as part of the school’s theatre program, as she had auditioned for, but never received, roles in the productions. However, she remained involved, serving as set captain, costume mistress, and stage manager the past three years. She was also the stage manager for Taxidermy: The Musical at the 2013 Winnipeg Fringe Festival.