By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Amy Buhrmaster has a singing voice that could probably convince woodland creatures to do her bidding. Her strawberry-blond hair gives Rapunzel a run for it. She’s a dedicated volunteer, dancer, artist and — in case you needed more evidence she’s modern-day royalty — she was Niskayuna High School’s 2014 homecoming queen.
Her resume doesn’t stop there. In addition to singing in three school-sponsored choruses and two outside of school, she enjoys sailing and participates in more clubs than she can easily count.
A small sampling includes drama club, Students Advocating Positive Environments, pep club, Key Club (which does community service), French club, and the Muslim Student Association. (“You don’t have to be Muslim to be in the club,” she explains.)
The Niskayuna High School senior, who lives in the Woodhaven neighborhood with her 16-year-old brother, David; her 21-year-old sister, Jenny (when she’s home from college); and her parents, though it’s hard to believe Buhrmaster is ever actually home.
She used to participate in even more activities than she does now, including soccer, track and more strenuous dance classes, until complications from severe asthma forced her to slow down.
Not long ago, she was diagnosed with costochondritis, a condition that causes inflammation in the cartilage around the rib cage. It’s technically an injury, and hers came from frequently coughing during asthma. Costochondritis is painful, and getting better requires rest.
Burhmaster loves the rapid pace of her life, so cutting out responsibilities was a formidable task. Still, she knew it was important for her health.
“I’ve had to take a step back and take a lot of things out of my life,” she said.
She let go of most sports, including track, which her dad introduced her to and she used as a stress-reliever. She also had to quit soccer following multiple concussions. At first, she had to let go of dance, too, but was able to return to modern dance in 2014.
“This year, the piece that we’re doing is a lot slower,” she said of her dance class. Over the summer, she was able to sail a little, though not as much as she would’ve liked.
One of the toughest sacrifices, Buhrmaster said, was the decision not to return to the People to People student ambassador program this past summer.
In the summer of 2012 she participated in the long-running annual program that enables students to mingle with other cultures. She visited six countries in three weeks, witnessed the workings of foreign governments, and met people from across the United States and Europe.
“They try to promote people who really want to be leaders of the world,” she said. The trip sparked an interest in politics and a strong desire for more travel, but for now she has to stay safely in Niskayuna.
At home, choosing which clubs, sports, and activities to walk away from was a challenge.
“I can’t pick a favorite of anything,” she said. “I don’t even have a favorite color.”
With her senior year well underway, such indecision poses a pretty significant problem: She can’t seem to narrow down an area of study, let alone a career goal.
“A dream job would be being in the movies, or a politician,” she said, though she’s also interested in criminal prosecution, pediatric physical therapy, music education, special effects cosmetics and wedding planning.
And that’s the narrowed-down version of the career list.
Regardless of what her future education brings, Buhrmaster knows a few things are in her life to stay, including music and dance.
“I can’t just stop that,” she said of her artistic endeavors. “I think I’d go insane.”
Along with making music and moving to it, Amy said she’ll continue to raise awareness for cancer charities, as she has done for years. She always gets pink hair extensions to support breast cancer awareness in October, green extensions to draw attention to childhood cancer at St. Patrick’s Day, and purple extensions to honor all kinds of cancer survivors when Niskayuna holds its annual Relay for Life.
Later this year, those extensions will get significantly shorter when she donates some of her hair to Children With Hair Loss, an organization that helps out not just children battling cancer but those who’ve lost their hair in other situations, such as fires.
And she’ll be able to stay in touch with the community organizations she’s been a part of for years, since her costochondritis means it’s safer for her to stay close to home.
But no matter what she pursues next, whether it’s politics or wedding planning, she’ll do it with her own special flair.
“One of the things I live by is being unregrettably myself,” she said.