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Federal Way High School senior targets youth violence

Mariah Oakes, who will soon be graduating from Federal Way High School, was inspired to start a youth violence prevention program the summer before her junior year, after the death of her cousin. - Kyra Low/The Mirror
Mariah Oakes, who will soon be graduating from Federal Way High School, was inspired to start a youth violence prevention program the summer before her junior year, after the death of her cousin.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

Mariah Oakes can pull inspiration out of difficult events.

Oakes, who will soon be graduating from Federal Way High School, was inspired to start a youth violence prevention program the summer before her junior year, after the death of her cousin.

"It sparked an interest," Oakes said. "I want to make people aware, especially youth."

Oakes spoke at area schools, starting with the Federal Way Public Academy. She began spreading awareness about the impact of youth violence.

They even made buttons reading "Stop Youth Violence Before it Stops You." They spoke to educators, attended conferences on violence, and presented information at the Federal Way Farmers Market.

Now she is taking her mission into the future.

Oakes plans to attend the University of Washington in the fall. She got into several other colleges including Duke University, but says that can wait for med school.

"UW had all the programs," Oakes said. "I could find so many reasons to stay in state. For med school I'll definitely consider a school like Duke."

Oakes plans on becoming an obstetrician and gynecologist, something she was inspired to do after watching the documentary "Invisible Children."

"I wanted to help others," Oakes said. "The way that I could do that was with science. This is what I can do, it's one of my loves. I like working with babies. They're innocent, they've done nothing other than be born."

Oakes plans on joining Doctors Without Borders and hopes to work somewhere in Africa. Darfur is currently off the list due to the violence and genocide, Oakes said, but Uganda is a possibility.

"(Africa's) such a different scale," she said. "I watch as we ignore the problems...I'd love to be a part of making someone's life better."

Oakes hopes to work with AIDS patients, especially with expectant mothers, letting them know that their disease doesn't have to be transmittable.

Oakes is also interested in global politics and wants to one day work with the United Nations.

"It makes it sort of less about your country," she said. "It's a global world."

Class of 2010: A closer look

It’s time for high school graduations. The Mirror will take a closer look at high school seniors from each of the Federal Way high schools. These students have made their presence known already, doing multiple community service projects, challenging themselves in school and setting big goals for the future. Congratulations to all the graduating seniors.

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