The San Mateo 17-year-old is a finalist in the international Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes competition, which honors 12 of 13,000 nominated youths. The Stanford-bound teen will learn if she made the final 12 on May 21.
What inspires a teenager to spend 20 hours a week helping people in addition to school? In my English class junior year, I read "The Grapes of Wrath." ... Everyone in the book was interdependent of each other. I could see how that’s really true in our world. Everyone has their place, we all have the potential for good. Why not share that feeling?
Who taught you to be so generous with your time? I’ve been surrounded by generous people in my life, especially my mom, who would always take me to community service activities and charity fundraisers.
How have you been able to encourage other teenagers to volunteer? I put together a volunteer fair at Hillsdale High School, and you’d be surprised how many people were interested. Every month, I take a group of students to a volunteer event. Forexample, on Martin Luther King Day, we went to Golden Gate National Park and planted 1,000 new plants. It was raining, and we were on our hands and knees, in lots of pain. But we realized that lots of people have to do this for eight hours a day, and their whole lives.
Has this recognition helped in your quest to help others? Being recognized definitely motivates me, and I feel empowered to take my community service projects to the next level.
Is there anything in it for you? I think volunteering allows you to find out things about yourself that you may not have known before.