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Mesa, Westwood seniors win student community service awards


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  • Heidi Hurst/Mesa Public Schools

CommunityServicStudentsHP

Mesa High senior Abanezer Sisay and Westwood senior Paige Zuraw have been awarded the second annual Student Community Service Awards from the Mesa Citizen of the Year Association. Both students received a $1,000 scholarship.

To be eligible for the award, students must complete at least 150 service hours during high school. Candidates must also demonstrate a commitment to lifelong community service.

“Mesa Citizen of the Year Association thinks it’s important to recognize the great volunteer work being done by Mesa Public Schools students,” said an association spokesperson. “They are helping with city programs, nonprofits and other important community outreach in an exemplary manner. As an association, we want to do more to promote volunteerism in our youth to develop our community leaders of the future.”

Meet Sisay and Zuraw below, and find out more about these exceptional students.

Abanezer Sisay
Senior, Mesa High School
National Honor Society vice president, Mesa Interact vice president, Student Council service and service learning commissioner, member of Mesa High Link Crew and Mayor’s Youth Committee

Mesa, Westwood seniors win student community service awards abanezersisaycoty

Abanezer Sisay                                             Photo taken by Tim Hacker/Mesa Public Schools

Q: What are your college plans?

Sisay: I officially got accepted to Vanderbilt and unofficially to University of Pennsylvania and University of Notre Dame. I’m waiting on 10 more schools, but for all of them I applied to major in Electrical Engineering.

Q: How did you first get involved in community service?
Sisay: I got involved in community service immediately after freshman year. I began volunteering every day at either the Downtown Mesa Library or Lindbergh Elementary School until school started. Then I joined the various service clubs of Mesa High and Habitat for Humanity, where I felt I could make a huge positive impact.

Q. Why is community service important to you?
Sisay: To me, service is the backbone of a modern society. The compassion, warmth and care brought by random strangers help those in rough times succeed in life, or it at least get them through the next day. As a past recipient of such service, I can say it means a lot to those of us who get it.

Q: How do you plan on continuing to volunteer and serve others after high school?
Sisay: Volunteering and serving others is something that should never stop. If anything, it should grow as you mature into a more reflective person and realize how much of a difference you can make. In college, I’ll join a club, hopefully Engineers Without Borders. For the far future, I wish to join Rotary and help struggling high-school students with academic help or guidance. After retirement, I think I will rejoin Habitat for Humanity full-time.

Q: What is your advice for students who’d like to volunteer but may not know where to begin?
Sisay: Contact your local service learning coach. Dr. Theresa Ratti, Mesa’s service learning adviser, is an excellent coach. I commend her for helping the many students who want to volunteer and encouraging many more to do service.

 Paige Zuraw
Senior, Westwood High School
National Honor Society member, Child Crisis Center volunteer, Interact District Council district governor, Interact Service Club publicity director, Little Warriors group leader
Mesa, Westwood seniors win student community service awards paigezurawcoty

Paige Zuraw                                        Photo taken by Tim Hacker/Mesa Public Schools

Q: What are your college plans?

Zuraw: I will be attending Brown University. I plan to major in engineering.

Q: How did you first get involved in community service?
Zuraw
: Through National Honor Society, I volunteered at a holiday party for children at a nearby shelter. It was such a rewarding feeling to bring joy to these children, so I continued volunteering at the shelter and got involved in other opportunities.

Q. Why is community service important to you?
Zuraw: I have observed the dedication community members have to helping others and their willingness to contribute their time to service. Even though we are young, we have the ability to create change and improve our community.

Q: How do you plan on continuing to volunteer and serve others after high school?
Zuraw: In college, I hope to become involved in Rotaract, which is Interact at the college level. After college, I plan to join Rotary, which is the world’s largest peacekeeping organization and the supporter of Rotaract and Interact.

Q: What is your advice for students who’d like to volunteer but may not know where to begin?
Zuraw: Find something you’re passionate about and create a service project involving it. I developed a project constructing duffel bags out of pillowcases for the Child Crisis Center and brought it back to Westwood’s Interact Service Club. The entire club got involved. We were able to assist an organization I’m passionate about and made more than 30 bags!