Eighteen-year-old Killdeer High School student Nichole Hanzel has become a minor international celebrity.
By Pat Merriman
For the DC Herald
Nichole will very soon (next month) be a graduate of KHS and she has been a busy young lady. At age 16, she completed her Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training and got her North Dakota EMT license at age 17 with her National Certification this year at age 18–both extremely unusual accomplishments. She actually has a High School credit program where she works at Killdeer Area Ambulance Service (KAAS) for the first 1.5 hours of her school day commencing at 7:30 AM, “I volunteered for KAAS to go on runs, help patients and, basically do whatever they need me to do.” Her boss Ann Hafner, Manager of KAAS is emphatic, “Nichole is fabulous. Quite an amazing young lady. We’re lucky to have her here.” But, that is only the beginning of this story.
Nichole was also instrumental in helping found KAAS’ Cadet Program too, “I wanted to get kids my age involved with being an EMT, doing fund raising and also helping out in the community”. As a result, last year she won the prestigious North Dakota EMS Association “Rising Star Award”, at both the squad, regional and state levels, for “an individual, Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), who is new to the field of pre-hospital care, shows rapid improvement, exemplary skills and takes on added responsibilities. The nominee must have less than three years of experience and be a current member of the North Dakota EMS Association.” There were numerous nominees but, she was the best of the best.
This year, she has just won the Prudential Spirit of Community Scholarship which, basically, recognizes her for her community service. After submitting her questionnaire and application, she was awarded 1 of the 2 state awards for North Dakota ($1,000 college scholarship), with the other going to Fargo Park Christian School student Lauren Knoll (a middle schooler). The 20-year-old award is sponsored by Prudential Financial and administered by the National Assoc. of Secondary School Principals. It is the largest and most prestigious youth recognition for community service award in the United States. Still not impressed?
OK, that Prudential Scholarship also came with a paid trip to Washington, DC, to tour our nation’s capital and, where the 104 state recipients will be winnowed down to the top 10 (5 high schoolers and 5 middle schoolers) who will then each receive an additional $5,000 award, additional $5,000 grant, a medallion and a trophy. But…Nichole isn’t going to Washington. What? Nope, she’s volunteered to go to China for 4 months for community service over there! Her father, fluent in Mandarin, is helping his daughter learn the language and she departs on March 3rd (remember, she’s graduating from KHS early) and won’t return until June 30th. Only having previously left the U.S. to travel in the Caribbean on vacation, Nichole says, “I’m so excited. I’m honored to represent KAAS but, to travel to a foreign country and volunteer, it’s important to influence others to do the same thing–give back to your community.” Her boss’ only half-joking reply, “I know it’s selfish, but, I wish she wasn’t going because I’m going to miss her here for those 4 months.”
Dunn County Herald Group Publisher Staceey Swenson had another interesting idea, “Merriman…ask her if she would be interested in stringing for us while she’s in China. Sort of a travelogue of stories for the hometown newspaper.” So, I asked and Nichole’s reply, “Sure! That’s awesome! I’ve got a VPN on my computer, so, it’s unblocked, what’s the email address.” So, there you go boss…on the road with Nichole Hanzel. Congratulations young lady! Everyone else? How about some sibling rivalry–catch her if you can! She’s leading from the front and Killdeer should be proud!