Meet Sophia Mascarena

Meet Sophia Mascarena, a freshman pre-med student at Duke University on a full ride scholarship.


Some day you might meet her in person, when she’s your orthopedic surgeon, or maybe a pediatrician.

Certainly, she says, she’ll be a philanthropist, one who will encourage others’ philanthropy and her mission: Support Camp POSTCARD, VOA’s leadership camp for 5th and 6th grade kids with local law enforcement to teach life lessons and plant the values of cowboy ethics.

Sophia’s passion for Camp POSTCARD comes from being there. First as a camper, next as a junior mentor, helping kids to find an anchor in the tough seas of modern growing up.

“I’ve been a mentor for four years. I see kids coming who remind me of me, away from home, scared, facing a challenge . . . and then succeeding, building relationships, accomplishing new things, getting a real confidence boost.”

Sophia faced an uphill battle when she first came to Camp POSTCARD, the only girl among a slew of rambunctious boys. A bow and a rifle were among the tools she discovered to overcome the challenge.

“I not only found I could do those — and I’d never held a bow or a rifle before — but I could be good at them,” she laughs. She could even best many of those boys.

Sophia epitomizes what VOA Board Chair Barb Skelton often advises; “Listen to those who tell you what you can do, not to those who tell you what you can’t.”

Nearly every day she learned to fight fear, face the challenges and discover something new about herself and others.

“Sometimes you have to ask someone for help who you may not necessarily like, but you get the help you need. And you learn to give that help back when you can.”

Sophia is giving back that help to a lot of kids, ones she’s watched grow into young men and women, with good choices learned from Camp.

Sophia’s mom tells her that going away to college will be like that first experience at Camp POSTCARD, away from home, scared, new people, new challenges.

“But, you know what, because of Camp, I’ll be fine.”

Duke University is only one step for Sophia on her way to a brilliant career in medicine. She qualified through a program to help low income families. First she competed against 34,000. Then 17,000. And then, she was one of 36 chosen to receive a full ride scholarship.

“They chose me!” she exclaims delightedly.

When she’s back in Montana during breaks from college, she hopes to participate with Camp fund and friend raising. Reaching back to help others along. Helping others to understand what she knows. Camp POSTCARD makes a difference in a life, in only a week, that will last a lifetime.

Meet Sophia Mascarena, some day she may be the surgeon who fixes your hip, replaces your knee, or maybe delivers your grandchild.

“Whatever I do I will always credit Camp for helping me. To think back when I didn’t want to come. And now I want every kid to come.”