Southwest Christian's Maria Brands

This stellar high school senior might put off college opportunities to give back to her brother’s native Guatemala.

Maria Brands knows one of her favorite memories of her time at Southwest Christian High School (SWCHS) will involve the annual talent show, Night of Stars. As a senior, this will be her fourth year exhibiting just one of her many talents—singing and playing piano. Beyond performing, Brands is involved in a host of other activities at SWCHS, including student council, worship team, choir and being captain of the soccer team.

Although many high school students struggle to find a balance between keeping up with extra-curricular activities and academics, Brands maintains a 4.0 grade point average. Her secret to success lies in time management. “It’s just using my time wisely, making sure I’m planning what I need to do and when I need to get it done,” she says, even if that includes utilizing the coveted weekend for schoolwork.

Following graduation from SWCHS, Brands is contemplating a gap year in Guatemala. The inspiration is very personal; her 8-year-old brother was adopted from Guatemala at 6 months old, and this past summer, she participated in her seventh mission trip there. “I have totally fallen in love with the country, culture and people,” says Brands. “I’ve learned and grown so much from the experiences I’ve had there, and it has a special place in my heart. I would love to go back long-term someday.”

Maria Brands: At a Glance

Favorite food: Chocolate. Any kind.
Favorite book: Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
Favorite movie: The whole Lord of the Rings series
Favorite place in the area: “I love the town of Excelsior; it’s so fun to walk around there.”