Michaela Shoults has dreams of one day being a doctor and already has started a charity to help children in Uganda.

The Elizabethtown High School junior started a charity called the Village Initiative Project. It partners with Healing Hope Malnutrition Clinic in Kampala, Uganda.

“I have family members from both Uganda and Congo so the people and children in these places are very close to my heart,” Shoults said.

Her charity works with Dr. Kasadha Emma.

“Dr. Emma has become a close friend of my family,” she said. “He goes into remote villages to assess and educate families about malnutrition and the effects it has on the body and development.”

The concern in those villages, she said, is education to help them care for their children and provide proper nutrition.

“I first had the idea when my mom had my 3-year-old brother,” she said. “In the United States, every woman is given a medical grade breast pump.”

She wanted to send used pumps to mothers in Kampala.

“After discussing with Dr. Emma, he told me that most of these villages do not have electricity so he requested hand held pumps, medical supplies — especially gloves — and formula for the infants and toddlers,” she said.

Through her parents’ support, she’s been able to reach out to people through social media to help get those supplies.

“I’m hoping to continue this project so that we can help save as many children as possible and help to make Dr. Emma’s job much easier,” she said.

Shoults doesn’t just want to help children now but also in her future career. Her plan is to go into a medical career.

“My dream is to get into Columbia or Duke, but I am also applying to some places closer to home,” she said. “I want to be a pediatrician so I can continue to help educate and empower other mothers as well as helping as many children as I can.”

She also wants to become a researcher to learn more about malnutrition, environmental effects and cognitive development in children.

To achieve those goals, Shoults said academics are important for her to attend a prestigious university to study biology for pre-med.

“I love children and a lot of my extra-curricular activities revolve around giving children, especially those at a disadvantage, a better life through health, education and nutrition,” she said. “I have maintained a 4.0 GPA all through middle school and high school and was awarded the highest GPA on my cheer squad for three years in a row.”

She’s taking four Advanced Placement classes and after her junior year she will be eligible to graduate with honors.

“I would say that I am able to balance all my activities with a lot of organization, schedules and support from my parents,” she said. “It’s not always easy to maintain focus on the future as a teenager, but I am extremely determined to achieve my dreams.”

Her mom, Brittany Goodin, called her an “amazing young woman.”

“I know she’s mine, but she truly amazes me with her passion and drive at such a young age,” Goodin said. “That did not come from me.”

Last year, Goodin said her daughter stayed out of cheer to double up on math classes to take more AP classes this year.

“What 16-year-old does that?” she said, adding determined is the best word she can use to describe her daughter. “I have told her from the time she was 2 that her strong will would make her or break her and thankfully she is using it to her advantage.”

Shoults said she became a cheerleader because she likes being a part of a team and showing spirit for her school. She also enjoyed going to Disney World with the squad.

She’s been a varsity cheerleader since the seventh grade, cheering for both Elizabethtown High School and T.K. Stone Middle School in seventh and eighth grade.

“I love being a cheerleader and I love the relationships and friendships I have made, as well as the opportunities I have been able to be a part of because of it,” she said.

Even with a full plate of academics and cheer, Shoults also is active in Beta Club, Pep Club, FCA and Teen Court.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.