Amber Mango - Joyful
Charger Cross Country & Track | Class of 2022 | Allendale, MI
By: Calli Townsend
Off the track, sophomore Amber Mango might be known for her passion for health and wellness. She's studying exercise science with the goal of moving onto chiropractic school, but, she also has been practicing a new skill lately.
"It all started when I got a book about how to make smoothies," Amber said.
Amber has been working on perfecting her various green smoothie recipes a lot this year, and she enjoys it, even if her friends do not.
"One time I made one and my friend said it smelled like formaldehyde. Another time I told my brother, Ross, 'Please just try it. I'll buy you ice cream if you try it.' And he took a sip and hated it, so I had to buy him ice cream."
Smoothies have been something Amber has enjoyed since her junior year of high school, when she started drinking them for breakfast every day, and eventually she started getting more creative.
"I add ingredients that probably shouldn't be added to smoothies. Instead of adding yogurt, fruits, and orange juice, I try to add a fruit and a vegetable and a couple powders that I use," she said. "I also tried flax seed and almond butter."
For Amber, making smoothies is a way to feel healthy and get in good, quality nutrition, which is something she's very passionate about.
"I want to be a chiropractor and incorporate the wellness and nutrition into that because it interests me," she said. "I'm always commenting on the food or what people are eating, so I'd say that's one of my main passions. And I think chiropractic school and general wellness go hand in hand with running. I think that nutrition pays a large role in athletic performance."
But even more than the balance between good nutrition and athletics, Amber says she'd love to find a way to combine health and wellness and working alongside kids with special needs to improve their overall wellbeing.
During her freshman year at Hillsdale, Amber volunteered at a few local schools to help out in the classrooms for students with learning disabilities. And this year, she has been volunteering at a local chiropractor's office. She said next year she hopes to balance both of those passions and do both.
"I miss going to the schools a lot. I haven't been able to do it as much this year because I've been at Dr. Walton's," she said. "If I could somehow incorporate both though, that'd be really cool."
Working with special needs children isn't something she just started doing in college. Amber has volunteered at a week-long camp in Grand Rapids, Michigan, called Special Needs Week for the last five years.
"It's a camp where you volunteer to be a one-on-one mentor with a child for the entire week," she said. "I have a mentor, Nana, through one of the local churches back home who works at this camp and suggested that I try it."
And so she did, and she's loved it ever since. She hopes to go back again this summer.
"My favorite camper had MCAP and he was my easiest camper by far, but also just the sweetest little boy," Amber said. "This was three years ago, so he would've been eight at the time. His voice was a very soft whisper and he'd wave until people would wave back and then he'd give them a thumbs up."
Her favorite memory with him was at the special olympics race at the end of the camp.
"I could tell he was very nervous before and he was in a race heat with older, more capable bikers and he started crying before. But we lined up and started and I was pushing his bike and he stopped crying and then he took his hands off his bike and was smiling and started waving to all the fans."
"At the end I told him I was so proud of him and he looked back at me and said, 'I'm so proud of you,' and I gave him a big hug. I just started crying because I was so overwhelmed by his joy. I think I should just start saying hi to everyone."
Amber lives her life in a very similar joyful way. She's quick to offer a smile and is full of laughter. And she'll always be willing to make you a smoothie.