"I think it's definitely important, when you're leading a group, that everyone feels like they're wanted or needed," said the St. Mary High School senior.
From serving as captain of her school's Future Problem Solving Team to directing the school play through the drama club, the soft-spoken Romero tries to lead her peers with compassion.
Olivia Romero, daughter of Marianna Romero, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees whom guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois submit to the Sun. Mid-Continent University will provide each Teen of the Week with a $2,500 annual scholarship to its university, which is renewable for four years. In the spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners. The Teen of the Year is eligible for a full four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent University or a cash award of $2,500, paid through the Paducah Sun, if the student selects another college to attend.
Romero often turns her leadership skills toward bettering the community. She's a founding member — and this year's president — of Sisters of Service, a faith-based group that engages in one community service activity per month.
"We started with the idea of Daughters of Isabella, but we made it our own. I think it's a really good experience for us to lead ourselves and learn to cooperate in a group environment," Romero said.
The group has helped at local animal shelters, as well as organizations such as the Salvation Army and events such as the Big Brown Truck Pull, which benefits the Special Olympics. Romero said that one of her favorite projects so far was making blankets for Hope Unlimited during a sleepover.
Romero is also a longtime member of the Girl Scouts of America, and is formulating an idea for her Gold Award. Receiving the award involves completing yet another service project, and Romero hopes to create a prayer garden for the Catholic retreat center she attends in Owensboro.
Romero said faith is an important component of her life, and that her beliefs help guide her actions.
"In everything I do, I try to make sure that I'm doing the right thing and I'm being an example for other people. When people think about me as a person, I really want them to think about how I exemplify God and how I lived out my faith," Romero said.
She said her favorite passage in the Bible is Philippians 4:4, which reads, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
"It just reminds me that, through the good and the bad, we should always praise God and thank Him for what He's done for us," Romero said.
She recalled that the passage helped her through a particularly difficult time in her life: when Romero was in sixth grade, her father passed away.
"I went through a pretty difficult time with that. But that's really where my faith came in," she said.
She remembers her father as a strong example of faith. And he's influenced her in another way, as well.
"My father was from Mexico, so I really enjoy the (Spanish) language and the culture. I hope to continue that in college," she said.
Romero intends to enroll in a four-year college and receive her certification to teach English as a second language to Spanish-speaking students.
"I love working with kids," she said. "I love their perspective, and the things they say sometimes. They always crack you up."
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.