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Kale and Arellano place first and third in essay contest


By Melanie Lust ’19

Like many high schoolers, Reva Kale ’19 and Nicole Arellano ’18 have their fair share of academic and athletic interests: from piano to track and field, from writing to math and science. But unlike most high school students, Kale and Arellano share a long-standing passion for volunteering.

Volunteering is exactly what won Kale and Arellano first and third place prizes, respectively, in a recent essay contest released by Volunteer Square, a Connecticut-based organization dedicated to assisting non-profits and local charities. One-hundred seventeen high school students entered the contest and three winners were chosen.

“I’ve been volunteering with special needs kids for a really long time,” Kale said. “I was really happy [when I found out I won].”

Arellano is also an experienced volunteer, which is why the subject of the contest stood out to her. She said she had “decided to go for it,” feeling surprised and happy when her work ranked highly.

The prompt from Volunteer Square from was released last October and read, “Why is volunteering and making an impact on your community important to you?” Winners were chosen based off how well the essay demonstrated enthusiasm for volunteering and evidence of community impact, as well as the quality of the writing.

Kale mainly wrote of her work in volunteering with the Special Olympics. “I made sure to focus on my own life too,” she said. “Not just the general impacts, but what impact it’s had on me.”

She has been volunteering for special needs-related organizations since elementary school, starting first with Challenger Baseball, a baseball league for disabled children. Now, she works weekly with the Special Olympics program and the Maritime Aquarium.

“Volunteering has always been almost like a stress-reliever for me,” she said. “I can go to Special Olympics and feel like I’m in a place where I don’t have to worry about school or social lives, I’m just here to help other people.”

Kale adds that she doesn’t volunteer just for college, or for something to include in her resume. “I would never do anything just for the recognition, and I’ll keep doing it the same way I’ve always done it,” she said. “And I think it’s nice to get recognition, but that shouldn’t be your only goal. You have to find a place where you like it.”

Arellano’s volunteer experience centers around being an EMT, working directly in ambulances and treating patients. She has been doing so for over a year.

Her essay focused on the training process and her initial uncertainty about the job. “At first it was definitely really scary, but doing it a lot helped build my confidence in general,” Arellano said. “I’m better with talking to people, and identifying the most pressing concern in a crazy situation.”

She believes that the win was very encouraging for her as both a writer and volunteer. “Volunteering has definitely changed me for the better, taught me a lot more than you learn in school, and I’m glad to have won an essay contest that celebrates that.”

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