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November 8, 1999
Teenager Rewarded for Social Commitment
For Deepti Chauhan, a teenager helping other people is rewarding and much more fun than hanging out at the mall or going to movies. Not that she doesn't enjoy doing it.
"It is just that there are so many hours in a week. There is enough time to cram everything in. It is really special is helping other people," said Chauhan, 18, a Staten Island, New York resident who is in her freshmen year at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania.
Chauhan was given the $ 10,000 Lena Horne Youth Leadership Award at a special ceremony by The Citizen Committee for New York, which administers the program. The program, founded in 1975 by Senator Jacob Javits, serves 12,000 neighborhoods organizations in the city's five boroughs.
She was one of 10 students honored last month for special contributions to the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
As a student at the Susan E Wagner High School last semester she volunteered to teach children in smaller grades.
She helped them with their homework, taught Spanish to elementary classes in her school and then graduated to co-ordinating the program at six elementary schools where she trained 45 volunteer teachers as well.
Chauhan, who was nominated for the award by her school, spent 30 minutes a week co-ordinating lesson plans and worksheets, and put in an hour in the classroom each week.
"It was fun. It was good experience. I enjoyed it tremendously. It really enhances social and leadership skills," said Chauhan, who added that it was "inspiring" to see the third and fourth-graders look up to her.
"We believe that young people can be part of the solution. We give them the opportunity to help out in a positive way," said Bill Chong, the program's vice-president.
"This scholarship is unique because it does not reward students for their athletic or academic achievements but for making a difference in everyday life," said Chong, adding that the students must have at least a B average.
"The scholarship was very beneficial to me. It was a big help," said Chauhan.
Her parents, Ved Chauhan, 46, and Abba Chauhan, 42, who immigrated from Meerut in 1981 are scientists at the New York State Institute.
"We always wanted her to do well both academically and socially. We have great expectations for her," said Abba. The couple has another daughter Neha, 13.
"I want to work in finance and in New York City. Once you have lived there, nothing compares to it," said Deepti Chauhan.
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