Her faith leads Olivia Karow as she graduates from LRHS.
When Lakewood Ranch High School seniors graduate May 18, many will go their separate ways, leaving the community for jobs or education.
Olivia Karow, though, is a leader who will stay local.
“I’m not a huge fan of change, but I’m excited for this change.” — Olivia Karow
Karow, 18, combines her love of the local community and her faith through Bayside Community Church. On any given Sunday, she’s volunteering her time on the middle school ministry leadership team, helping services run smoothly.
Karow, through the church, has also been on five mission trips. In El Paso, she helped paint a church. In Guatemala and Panama, she helped distribute food to those in need. In Scotland and Berlin, she engaged in street ministry, spreading the word of Christ and having conversations about faith.
“God is so good,” she said. “If we’re faithful to him, then he will be faithful to us.”
Those passions will keep Karow close to home when she graduates. She plans on attending the Southeastern University campus at Bayside Community Church — her home church — to continue her education through the ministerial leadership and business leadership programs.
The Wisconsin native moved to Florida when she was in fifth grade. She felt out of place and uncertain about her future when she arrived.
At Bayside, Karow said she found the confidence and strength to stand out throughout her education.
Her leadership experience extends beyond her church. She didn’t join the Mustangs band until her sophomore year, but she became the flute section leader her junior year and was a drum major her senior year, leading the marching band in its performances.
“It was very humbling, to me, because personally, I didn’t think I was going to do that,” she said. “It definitely was one of my favorite parts of high school, just being able to be there and lead people.”
Karow is a leader both in school and at church. Matt Moore, a pastor at Bayside, said Karow is currently on the middle school ministry leadership team, making sure their services run smoothly.
“Just about every weekend she’s there, helping us run the service,” Moore said.
In the past few months, he said, Karow has also joined the broadcast speakers team, so she will occasionally speak and deliver messages to middle school students that are broadcast out to other Bayside campuses.
Moore said he respects that she not only influences her peers, but garners respect from them, too.
Ten years from now, Moore said he could see Karow in a leadership role in the corporate world or as a ministry director or pastor if she decides to stay in a faith-based organization.
“It’s just evident, her life and the influence she has on other people,” he said.
In the meantime, Karow said she’s happy sticking around and living at home while she’s going to college. She said she and her family gather around the TV every Sunday night and watch America’s Funniest Home Videos. She’s glad she can stick around with her sister, Elaina, who is a sophomore at Lakewood Ranch High School, even though they might argue sometimes.
“I just love spending time with my family,” she said. “The moments that we have together, I make sure we cherish those.”
And while Karow said she was frightened by the future for a while, now it’s a bit of a different story.
At first, she said, she asked herself “What the heck? Where did the time go?”
“Lately, I’ve been feeling so at peace,” Karow said. “I’m not a huge fan of change, but I’m excited for this change.”