Youth of the Month Essays (2017-18)

Michelle Diaz – February 2018


Giselle Soto – January 2018

Hello, everyone. Thank you for having me as it is an honor to be here with you all today. My name is Giselle Soto, and I am going to be speaking to you about strengthening America through socially responsible communities.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “This world of ours must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” His words speak the truth as the world, today, has evolved into what he feared the most. Violence, greediness, and hatred have smeared across America because of society’s selfishness. People believe that a community is not essential in to self-persevere, but how would one overcome an obstacle without any support? I believe that a successful community should be built on generosity, equality, and advocacy.

Community service is necessary for our country to keep thriving as we must help one another when in need. Even a small gesture or selfless action towards another person is considered community service. Over the past three years I’ve been volunteering at my church and making rosaries for the army, which I enjoy making with my mother. I’ve also helped my mother who is a catechist assist her class. I’ve guided freshman and helped them transition into high school over the last 2 years and it has given me joy watching them grow.

One area in the community that I hope to focus on is women and young girls in S.T.E.M. As those of you who don’t know, I am very passionate about Computer Science and coding, and I feel that women are under-represented in S.T.E.M related courses. It’s rare to see a woman pursue a career in S.T.E.M because society has labeled it as not a typical job for a woman. Given that girls are taught at a young age to be “feminine” and “modest”; women are afraid to join the field because they see it as unsuitable for women. However, these labels are fictitious as no job has a gender assigned to it. After college I want to come back to Round Lake to create change and become a role model for younger women interested in S.T.E.M. I hope to do this by volunteering at schools to talk about my story in S.T.E.M and how I’ve overcome the social stigma of the male-dominated field. I want to encourage young girls that they can be anything they want to be. I also hope to give girls, who are interested in coding, free access to workshops or online coding lessons because I was given that same opportunity and loved it.

This leads to where and what I plan to achieve in college. I’ve applied to several schools such as Bucknell University, University of Richmond, College of the Holy Cross, and DePauw University. I plan to major in Computer Science and or Business Administration and to minor in a foreign language. I hope to study abroad for a year, and apply for internships over the summers to deepen my knowledge on my major. I also plan to be on my feet at all times and play sports, join clubs, and participate in community service, of course. Overall I want to be a well-rounded college student and I cannot fathom how excited I am to go to college next year and be on my own.

We need to build our community through giving. We need to help our community through kindness. We need to assemble our community as one.

Andra Pop – December 2017

A community shouldn’t be defined just by where an individual lives, but by the actions taken to tie everyone together and brings joy and happiness to those who just happen to share the same city. To me, Round Lake means a lot more than it may to others. It’s not just a small town but a whole community that comes together under Friday night lights to support our Panthers, no matter the score. It’s a community that helps others when disaster strikes. It’s a community that unites to defend one another when it is attacked or looked down upon. Individuals coming together to form one big team that stands up for the same idea and doesn’t give up, we form a community that means more to us than just our city borders.

As for myself, I have tried to make Round Lake into a better place in numerous ways. I have volunteered to work at the concession stands during football games so that teams like volleyball and track and field can earn money to better equip their players with t-shirts, socks, uniforms, track equipment or even to just raise money so that Mayra, a junior at our school, can pay off her medical bills due to cancer. My volunteer work doesn’t just stop at the high school. I volunteered to talk to 7th graders who were troubled and helped them get on the right path. They were students struggling with peer pressure and bullying. I told them to do the things that they feel comfortable doing, and not succumbing to peer pressure just because their friends think it’s cool. That everything they do, should be done because they want to do it. Last month I had the opportunity to meet with the State Senator of Illinois and propose a plan on how to better our community. My team and I had the successful idea of imposing term limits for state representatives so there are fresh perspectives for our country. We received second place for our idea, against the other 7 teams, and this experience reinforced the reason why I want to become a lawyer.

As for my future plans, I plan on attending a 4 year university. Which one, I have yet to decide. After I complete my undergrad I plan to attend law school to be on my way to becoming a lawyer. I have not chosen the field for which I want to be a lawyer, but my top choices are criminal or civil. I chose those as my top 2 because everyday I hear of people being mistreated and not receiving the justice they deserve. Becoming a lawyer is my way of giving back, because maybe with my help these individuals can have a second chance. Maybe it will be the one thing that will influence them to turn around and give something back to their community, because that is what my community did for me.

Gary Lambert – November 2017

The feeling of volunteering can be viewed as an inspiration to people all around the community as it makes a difference in America. Volunteering can be a massive influence on most communities as it is often defined as “rendering of service by choice of or free will for the benefit of the wider community by an individual, group, or institution without necessarily expecting monetary gain in full knowledge and appreciation of being a volunteer”.

To elaborate, one massive form of volunteerism that most people (including myself) participate in, is the Military. My stepfather is a chief in the Navy which brought upon multiple alternatives within our lives. For him, he had to go through training that could sometimes be considered as brutal for multiple days in a row, while keeping a stable mindset throughout his training days. He has to repeatedly make friends over and over again as his area of deployment requires him to move to different stations.

My mother experiences difficult situations as well. As she’s a military spouse, she relates to what wives married to military men have to go through; you must find a new job, a new home, and adjust to different lifestyles within the community. You will also have to leave your friends and family behind while searching for a new place to continue your career. There will be days where you aren’t able to spend special occasions with your husband or wife such as an anniversary, birthdays or holidays.

As for me, I had to move twelve hours away from my family and friends to Illinois, while adapting to a new community and weather climate. School over here is different compared to the school in Virginia based upon their grading systems and teaching methods. The culture in Round Lake is quite different to the town I came from in Virginia. For example, Round Lake has a surplus of hispanics in comparison to Virginia where every race was equally split throughout the community. On the other hand, Round Lake has a larger group of minorities compared to Virginia.

A few volunteering acts that I’ve participated in is Student Ambassador for the  Technology Campus of Lake County, College Ambassador for Round Lake High School, and helping students with school work during my free lunch periods. As a Student Ambassador, I assisted upcoming technology campus students into picking out the right classes for them, and understanding the specific class they were in at the time. As a College Ambassador, I answer college related questions at any point in time throughout the school day.

In other cases, the general population tends to focus on volunteering in smaller situations. If you take me for example, I’m one to help with small tasks such as fixing a car part, fundraising, and assisting with minor after school programs. For others it could vary from being a certified nurse specialists to being a boy or girl scout. Volunteering or community service in general can improve the appearance of a specific location or town that half of us never heard of.

Participating in community service in general helps build a safer, more cohesive, stronger community and it will increase the positive social network between communities and neighborhood.

As of right now, there are over 1.2 million individuals volunteering themselves and enlisting within the military. That is about 1/10th of the 29% of 17-24 year olds who would succeed to qualify for enlisting into the military. Being enlisted within the military means you must travel away from your friends and family every few years, to assist the country and protect the meaning of the flag and what it stands for.

Some of the community service opportunities in the community of Round Lake are Avon community food pantry, Mano a Mano, and Oak Hill Supported Living. There are also small organizations within the neighborhoods within Round Lake such as Catholic Charities of America and Meals on Wheels.

There are so many choices for everyone in Round Lake and there are not any reasons for anyone not to volunteer. In the United States, volunteers produce services worth $113 billion to $161 billion annually of their own free will by coming together with others to complete their goals. That is equivalent to about 20.8 million full-time jobs!

Strengthening America in general can be achieved by people coming together and accomplishing one set goal in mind due to their own liking. If we continue on the path of volunteering by participating in small tasks such as community service, then we can essentially strengthen America.

Alexis Cordova – October 2017

Round Lake taught me many responsibilities and shaped me as the person I am today. It shaped me for the better and for the good of the world; It shaped me as a Panther. How could one describe a Panther? A panther has many great qualities and characteristics: out- going, composed, giving, caring, helpful and most importantly full of grit and pride. Round Lake community taught me to be appreciative and be passionate about helping and assisting my peers and others to the best of my ability. Round Lake shaped me into a genuinely good person, which in turn benefits the community because it is creating socially responsible future generations. For instance, on my free time I joined a medical scholarship program called Penwasciz at Advocate Condell Hospital. I get to assist all the nurses and surgeons with hands on patient care. This was a great experience because it proved that I belong in the medical field. I volunteered two hours every Monday for the last 8 months and I always wanted to volunteer for longer because it increased my passion for the medical world.

RLAS not only shaped me as a caring person but as well as a leader/ mentor. I am a volleyball player at Round Lake Senior High School and I take great pride in being the libero, which is a defensive specialist. Since our team is considered “young”, I go out my way to take all the lower level classmen under my wing to not only work on skills on the court, but how to represent and take pride in being a Panther.  In addition of the being the Volleyball captain and libero, I am also a Panther Crew Leader. I have the responsibility of mentoring all the lowerclassmen at the high school, specifically the freshman. I am available to answer any possible questions about the high school; whether it be directions about the school campus or who to talk to if they are struggling in school. I pass down all my past knowledge, share my experiences with them, and most importantly show them the true meaning of “panther pride.”

Round Lake has truly shown me how to be responsible and in return, I am hoping I am showing how to do that to future generations. It is not only about following up with responsibilities, volunteering your time, but also about loving the place that has given you the ability to learn and do that. I love Round Lake and who it has shaped me to be and there is no other community I would want to be from.