Shaina Finkel was only four years old when she started going to Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) events and campaigns with her father.
Now 16, the Wiregrass Ranch High senior will represent all 7,500 SADD chapters as the organization’s national student president for the 2021-22 school year.
In this position, Shaina will be expected to be a spokesperson for SADD nation, oversee the Student Leadership Council and advise the SADD national Board of Directors, which is comprised of adults.
Above all, she says she is focused on improving the mental health of students across the nation.
“I’m just really looking forward to being able to bring my ideas and the things my chapter has worked on to a bigger stage,” Shaina says.
Shaina is the first person ever from Florida to serve in this position, and SADD CEO Rick Birt says her passion is what made her stand out.
“Shaina is truly the embodiment of the word passion,” Birt says. “In everything she does and in every interaction you have, you see that she is truly the embodiment of this word and we are so honored and excited to have her (serving) in this role.”
Shaina has been president of Wiregrass Ranch’s SADD club since her sophomore year. She said the club opens students’ eyes to the dangers of making destructive decisions, especially driving under the influence, and the need to maintain good mental health.
“We have English, we have history, but we don’t have a class about how to save your life,” Shaina says. “So, the fact that we have a club for that or a chapter for that, and we as peers are able to help our own peers, that’s just honestly the most beautiful thing.”
Shaina’s father, Gregory Finkel, is the advisor of Wiregrass Ranch’s SADD club and also the school’s driving teacher. He said he can’t wait to see where her role as national student president takes his daughter.
“I’m super excited for everybody that’s going to see her, because she’s going to make a huge difference,” Gregory Finkel says. “As long as everybody listens, they will see that she’s got a true heart.”
Finkel’s mother Jessica couldn’t stop smiling when she heard the news that her daughter would be the next SADD national student president. She says Shaina is always so excited when it comes to SADD-related topics and is constantly participating in a variety of SADD events.
“I’m so proud of her for accepting it and taking on the challenge,” Jessica says. “I’m not concerned. I know she can do all of this. She always takes on a lot, and she’s very successful at everything she takes on.”
Shaina says that SADD is already a big part — and will continue to be a big part — of her life. She is excited to represent her community on a national level and uphold the mission and vision of what SADD stands for.
“Not only does this position give me a voice, I think it gives Wiregrass SADD a voice,” Shaina says. “It gives Wesley Chapel a voice, and it gives Florida a voice.”
For more information about the national Students Against Destructive Decisions organization, visit SADD.org.