Sharing life through mission trips, words and leadership positions
Erin Urhahn, a senior at Oak Ridge High School, calls herself a “natural supporter.” This is one reason, as a three-sport athlete, Erin believes cheerleading is her favorite. She loves supporting others and motivating them to be their best.
This supporter attitude is reflected in the leadership positions Erin holds at her school, including Student Council president, National Honors Society (NHS) president, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) vice president, cheer captain and liaison to the regional youth group Vincentian Marian Youth for her home parish St. Joseph/St. Maurus in Apple Creek and Biehle, Mo.
“I think so many people get lost in … ‘What do I do? Where do I go? What do I say?’ … Just say, ‘yes,’ and go. … I think that's what I've kind of done in my class and my school and all these clubs. I've just said yes,” Erin says. “It’s all kind of — I don't [want to] say fallen in my lap, because I've worked for it — but it just made sense.”
At Oak Ridge High School, Erin says there are 27 students in her grade, and she’s known approximately half of them since kindergarten. She says this closeness is one of the reasons she has loved being the class president for the past three years.
As class president, she helped lead and organize a silent auction and trivia night fundraiser titled “Are You Smarter Than a Junior?” in April 2022. The purpose of the fundraiser was for the junior class to raise enough funds to pay for every graduating senior’s cap and gown. Erin says they raised “more than enough” funds to reach this goal.
“I love being our class president, because our class can do great things. I think we all motivate each other to do them,” Erin says.
Outside of her many leadership positions, Erin stays active by playing volleyball, running cross country and captaining the Oak Ridge High School cheer squad. She has played volleyball since the fourth grade and ran cross country since the seventh grade. Erin did gymnastics until she was 11 years old, but she transitioned to cheerleading in sixth grade.
Erin is also part of three separate Catholic youth groups, the St. Joseph/St. Maurus Youth Group at her home parish in Apple Creek and Biehle, Mo., the Immaculate Conception Youth Group in Jackson and Vincentian Marian Youth for the Southeast Missouri region.
During the summer, Erin participated in Operation Overhaul, a week-long mission trip in Memphis, Tenn., through Vincentian Marian Youth. Urhahn says Operation Overhaul was focused on serving and bettering the lives of people who are homeless in the city.
She says during their trip, one group of students built a shower for an 80-year-old man who had never had his own shower enclosure in his life. Other groups helped build houses. Erin says she was part of the “Dorothy Day House” group, in which they repainted a home that provides a comfortable environment for families who are homeless as they transition into new jobs and homes.
“The most impactful, inspiring experience I had was at a food shelter. I went and fed the homeless for one day, and that was amazing,” Erin says. “And it was really educational. We learned that the average homeless person that goes to get food walks seven miles [to get to the food shelter].”
Outside of her many school and youth group activities, Erin is an active writer. Her work was published in the first and second issues of Here., a regional literary magazine for high school students in Southeast Missouri, and she participated in the 2020-21 Here. Student Editorial Board. Currently, she writes a monthly “Senior Moments” column for The Best Years magazine, a publication with a target audience of people who are in the 55+ age group.
“Writing so consistently, I think, has been the biggest eye-opener for me, because I'm used to submitting something and then waiting six to eight months for feedback,” Erin says. “Now, it's the 15th of every month, [they] need something new. … It’s been really rewarding and challenging.”
Erin realized she wants to pursue writing as a career, and she has tentative plans to study creative writing in college.
“I like to think that my [writing] style is motivational. So, whether that be poems or fiction or something that relates to life,” Erin says.
Although Erin would like to focus on fiction writing, she is open to whatever opportunities life presents. Wherever she ends up, Erin says she wants to be a “sharer.” From serving others to writing stories and leading groups, she wants her future to be focused on the act of sharing.
To start off this life of sharing, Erin shares one lesson she’s learned from her 18 years of life: “Just say yes.”