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April 29, 2009 > Making a difference

Making a difference

As high school seniors turn the final corner toward graduation, years of academic labor bear the fruit of college admission, trade schools and employment. Concerns of a future profession and financial support rise to the surface as well. Some students will leave the area to find opportunity and leave many of their current avocations and volunteer activities as they move on. This is a time for recognition of past service and support for future endeavors. Among the myriad of volunteer appreciation ceremonies, each year Kaiser Permanente honors their student volunteers who have made a significant contribution to the lives of employees and patients. Money generated from sales at hospital gift shops in Fremont and Hayward are the source of these scholarships.

This year, nine students who have declared career goals in the health profession were honored with scholarships. Included are: Minal Awasthi, Irvington High School (Doctor); Jessica Choy, James Logan High School (Pediatrician); Sonal Gandhi, Hayward High School (Nurse); Amandeep Kaur, Mount Eden High School (Nurse Practitioner); Sonali Mehta, Irvington High School (Pediatrician); Assile Osman, John F. Kennedy High School (Doctor); Deborah Ricasata, Mount Eden High School (Nurse); Saloni Shah, Washington High School (Doctor); Claudia Zavala, Samuel Merritt College (Nurse).

Each recipient boasts an impressive resume of academic and community achievement, representing well-rounded pursuits that have enriched the community. TCV spoke with several students who attended a Kaiser Permanente luncheon in their honor on Tuesday, April 21.

Jessica Choy of James Logan High School came to the luncheon with her parents, Judy and Henry. A Kaiser Permanente volunteer since 2007, she has accumulated 156 hours of service. Jessica also spent three years with the Logan band playing oboe and English horn as well as serving on "Link Crew" an orientation group to help freshman adjust to high school life. Multi-talented, Jessica also coached volleyball in Palo Alto. A profession in the medical field has been Jessica's goal for a long time. She says, "I started thinking about becoming a pediatrician in the fourth grade. I really love the sciences."

Assile Osman has volunteered in the laboratory at the Fremont Medical Center since 2007. As a senior at John F. Kennedy High School, he is active in the Science, Math and Speech Clubs as well as the assistant editor of the Journalism Club. Volleyball is also on a long list of extracurricular activities as well as a recycling club. Assile has accumulated over 300 volunteer hours and says, "Its fun." His career goal is to become a physician specializing in Internal Medicine or Pediatrics. "I like kids and babysit all of my cousins who are younger than me so I have grown accustomed to children." Assile is attracted to Internal Medicine because his grandfather was a physician specializing in that field. "Receiving this honor means a lot to me; it shows support for my goals."

Sonali Mehta of Irvington High School began to volunteer at the Hospital Information Desk at Fremont's Kaiser Hospital in 2007 accumulating close to 300 hours of service. Her parents Sanjay and Shradha were proud to attend the luncheon and watch their daughter receive recognition for her efforts at the front desk and high school student orientations. She recognizes that volunteer efforts at the front desk can make a significant difference for visitors who may be confused about the location of services. "It makes the jobs of doctors, nurses and hospital personnel a little bit easier," says Sonali. With a career goal of Pediatrics, she notes that this experience will help her in the future. "You see how medical personnel interact with patients and gave me a good idea of what the atmosphere of a medical facility will be like; it has been motivational for me."

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