As a senior at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, Neveah Holloway, 17, spends her time outside the classroom in a variety of clubs and community service projects – but the inspiration behind her commitment to others, she says, is her faith.

“My faith influences a lot of my decisions,” she said. “Jesus has impacted my life in a very tremendous way – the things I do each day, how I work, how I move. He helps me to see my vision for myself.”

Holloway was named the Catholic Youth Organization’s 2020 female Youth of the Year for involvement in youth ministry at her local parish, St. Margaret of Scotland in Capitol Heights, Maryland, and her leadership and dedication to serve the Church and the local community.

To be acknowledged as the female Catholic Youth of the Year for 2020 , Holloway said she was “very shocked” to be recognized among so many wonderful individuals.

“It was shocking to see all my hard work paid off,” she said. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic shifted the face of community service, Holloway said she participated in weekly service activities at school – but while that has changed, her commitment has not wavered.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Holloway has donated her time to Martha’s Table, a community-based food bank that distributes free meals and groceries in Washington, D.C., to assist those who are in need and finding themselves without food.

Some of her other notable service projects have been volunteering through Shop with the Cop in Bladensburg, which provides children with a one-on-one shopping trip with a student volunteer and a police officer to celebrate the Christmas season. Through her campus ministry program at Elizabeth Seton High School, Holloway assisted in the Sandwiches for S.O.M.E. program and spent her time tutoring children in need. Another one of her favorite volunteer programs was visiting with residents at the Sacred Heart Nursing Home in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Being involved in her parish, St. Margaret of Scotland, has played a large role in her faith life and her commitment to service, Holloway said. She attends the parish with her mother, Angela Moore, and her grandmother, Carolyn Saunders.

As an active member of her parish’s youth ministry, Holloway said participating in her parish life “means a lot to me because it’s about helping and supporting one another through times like this.”

“They (the parish community) have seen me through some very important times in my life,” Holloway said. “I’ve been religious since I was a kid and a lot of that has to do with my church. (Service) is about giving back to people. Many people make it about money or what they are getting out of it (service), but that is not it. It is about how you impact other people. I love giving back to people. I love interacting with different people.”

Ethel Johnson, the youth ministry coordinator at St. Margaret of Scotland, wrote to the Catholic Standard that Holloway has helped lead the youth ministry group through her example throughout the past five years. 

“Neveah leads members of the youth ministry in planning, coordinating and implementing various donation drives to give of herself by serving others," Johnson wrote. 

Throughout her high school career, Holloway said she has volunteered nearly 70 hours and she plans to continue until graduation in the spring. After graduation, she plans to attend a four-year university with a major in nursing.

“I have a passion to help people,” she said. “I am very much a people person.”