Red Mountain High School senior Tulcy Patel and Westwood High School senior Luke Taylor have been awarded Student Community Service Awards from Mesa Citizen of the Year Association. Both students received a $1,000 scholarship. Eligible candidates must complete at least 150 service hours during high school and demonstrate a commitment to lifelong community service.
“It’s important to recognize the great volunteer work being done by Mesa Public Schools students,” says an association spokesperson. “They’re 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.”
Patel, who has already developed four mobile applications, plans to study computer science at college. She is considering attending Arizona State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology or University of California, Berkeley. Taylor will major in aerospace engineering at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU. He hopes to start a nonprofit organization in Mesa that inspires underprivileged children to become interested in science and engineering. Both vow to continue to volunteer in college and beyond.
Patel volunteers with Mesa Public Library, Mayor’s Youth Committee and Google Made with Code, and says Mesa Teen Court has been one of her favorite service opportunities. “Mesa Teen Court determines the outcome of real juvenile cases by suggesting fair and just punishments for misdemeanors,” she explains. “Acting as a judge, attorney, bailiff, jury member and more, the volunteers who make up the court create constructive consequences for the defendants and community. This allowed me to grow as a leader and provided opportunities for those convicted to connect with the youth who represent them, actively creating a justice system in which youth help shape and positively change our communities.”
Taylor volunteers with Arizona Museum of Natural History and several other organizations through school clubs such as Interact club. One of his favorite service opportunities was through National Honor Society. “We organized a Christmas party for the children at Child Crisis Center,” he remembers. “I was Santa Claus, so I handed out presents. It was rewarding because I saw the impact our service had on the kids’ faces. This experience helped me understand why I do service.”
Taylor encourages all teens to volunteer. “Look for things that make you happy,” he advises. “If you enjoy animals, help at a shelter. If you enjoy kids, volunteer at your elementary school.” Patel agrees, adding, “Ask yourself, ‘What does my community need that I can contribute to and fill in that hole?’ This allows you to see the bigger picture. Recognize how your service helps your community and yourself. Though you have fulfilled a need, you have also grown as a leader and ideal role model for others.”