Young volunteer garners recognition
Amy Hsueh likes to work quietly behind the scenes, helping with a variety of different initiatives in her school and community.
When the soft-spoken Grade 12 Dover Bay Secondary School student talks about being named Junior Citizen of the Year in the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce’s annual Sterling Awards, she admits she’s a little embarrassed to be recognized in this way.
“It’s a great honour,” said Hsueh. “I think there’s a lot of deserving candidates out there. I just like working with people.”
While she doesn’t keep track of her volunteer hours, in a typical week Hsueh can be found at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, talking with patients and helping out where needed, shelving books in the school’s library, tutoring math students, at student council meetings and helping out with recycling and other environmental activities through the Dover Bay Eco Club.
Hsueh also has an impressive community volunteer record, from salmon habitat restoration work and helping out at flu shot clinics during the H1N1 outbreak two years ago to the Maple Sugar Festival and the city’s Leaders in Training program, through which she logged more than 150 hours leading various kids camps and helping out at special celebrations.
On top of this, she competes with her school’s track and field team, is a member of the math contest club, plays the violin in a school band and still finds time to earn good grades.
But Hsueh feels like she has it all under control.
“I think I’m just used to it,” she said. “Most of it is fun for me, so it’s not stressful. When you volunteer, you tend to be happier because you’re doing what you like.”
Hsueh and her two older sisters, younger brother and parents moved to Canada from Taiwan in 2003 and her exposure to the environment increased – in Taiwan, her family lived in the city, whereas in Nanaimo she lives in Lantzville, surrounded by green space and enough of a yard to get chickens.
This motivated her to become involved with the eco club along with her sisters and she helped the club win a $50,000 technology upgrade from Staples Business Depot.
Hsueh plans to pursue a career in the medical field as a doctor or researcher and follow her sisters to the University of Toronto next fall – all three are studying life sciences with the intention of doing something in the medical field.
“We do a lot of things together, so we’ve developed the same hobbies and likes and dislikes,” she said.
RUNNERS-UP … Tali Campbell, a Grade 11 student at John Barsby Secondary School, became interested in leadership in Grade 9 when he started a school newspaper. Since then, he’s been involved in numerous school and community projects, including volunteer work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island and taking a leadership role in organizing the World’s Longest Street Hockey Game from June 29 to July 3. His goal is to demonstrate that youth can contribute to society in positive ways and be the leaders of today as well as tomorrow.
RUNNERS-UP … Paul Kim, a Grade 11 student at Wellington Secondary School, volunteers his time at various organizations, including the Canadian Red Cross, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. He maintains top academic marks while undertaking projects on behalf of student council and helping Grade 8 students adjust to life in high school. He cares deeply about giving back to the community and strives to instil lifelong qualities in youth through teaching taekwondo.