• Collins Speed
  • The Westminster Schools, junior
Collins Speed
Collins Speed

Collins Speed learned blacksmithing at a summer camp in North Carolina. In his sophomore year at The Westminster Schools, Collins decided to use his metalworking skills to make a mark on the world.

In July 2013, Collins traveled to Guatemala with Westminster’s Guatemala Service Learning & Global Education program. The group stayed in a village called Santa María de Jesus. Collins helped build a house, distributed medical and school supplies, and had the opportunity to hand a family the key to their first home, the house he had helped construct.

“The people of Santa María de Jesus, other areas in Guatemala, and many places around the world suffer from the cycle of extreme poverty,” Collins said. “They can’t go to a clinic; they’ll lose a day of work. They can’t go to school either.”

In order to attend the trip, Collins had to raise $800 to invest in tools to build a house in Guatemala. With his mom’s advice, Collins decided to make fire-pokers and other tools to raise money. At Calhoun Design and Metalworks, where he has worked and interned, Collins manufactured the tools, which he later sold all in one day.

Throughout his sophomore year at Westminster, Collins met with the other students and adults participating in the trip to Guatemala. They discussed the poverty that they would meet on the trip, and the history behind such conditions.

“We talked about the cycle of poverty, and how kids’ education is almost worthless once they get to the age where they can work,” Collins said.

Those close to him recognize Collins, with an eye for craftsmanship and a heart for generosity, as an open and extremely hardworking person.

“He’s smart, caring and entertaining,” said Daniel Searl, Collins’ homeroom teacher and leader on the trip to Guatemala. “Collins worked hard in a welding shop to raise hundreds of dollars earmarked for the building materials we would use in Santa María de Jesus.”

Collins Speed, center, raised $800 by selling tools he manufactured through his metalcrafting skills, in order to visit Guatemala.
Collins Speed, center, raised $800 by selling tools he manufactured through his metalcrafting skills, in order to visit Guatemala.

After his preparation for the journey, Collins gave even more of himself to the people in Guatemala.

“Collins went to Guatemala with a lot to give (time, money, labor and love),” Searl said, “but came away with a lot more, thanks to the relationships he developed and his willingness to open up, connect, and understand that we can all learn from each other, regardless of economic, language or cultural barriers.”

What’s Next:

Collins hopes to attend Vanderbilt University, Bowdoin College or Dartmouth College. He plans to major in English.

This article was prepared by Margaret Langford, a student at the Atlanta Girls’ School.

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