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Santa Clara High School Student Receives Award from the White House

February 2021

“Over the past year you have served as a model of the American Spirit,” said a letter from the White House to Rhea Jain.

Congratulations to Rhea Jain, a hard-working, dedicated Santa Clara High School student who was recently acknowledged for all of her hard work with a prestigious Presidents Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) for National Community Service. The award honors outstanding volunteers who are making a difference in our communities.

Jain received a letter, certificate, and medal from the White House in recognition of her volunteerism with JCNC (Jain Center of Northern California) in Milpitas, where she volunteered over 70 hours of community service. Jain volunteered at educational programs, cultural events, food and clothing donation drives, senior mixers, religious events, social and community events, and more. JCNC is a “Certifying Organization” for the PVSA program and monitors eligibility for this and other awards. 

Jain’s proud parents vouch for her determination in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) saying that she participates in multiple activities outside of school as well as taking extra classes at Mission College to get ahead in her future endeavors.

Despite the pandemic, Jain’s volunteerism continues through Coder Dojo, a global volunteer-led community of free programming workshops for young people between 7 and 17. With her team, she has created a Coder Dojo chapter at the Northside Library in Santa Clara, where she creates curriculum for computer language (Python, Java, and Javascript) workshops. In addition, Jain is teaching the coder concepts to others — over 80 students weekly — to provide them with exposure to the field of computer science.

“Volunteering is contagious — in a good way,” said Jain. “I am an introvert and was shy to volunteer initially. However, once I started off with support from my parents, I felt a sense of pride and happiness. I got more involved and wherever possible, I would encourage my friends to participate too.” 

Jain first got involved in STEM through the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute (SLI) at Cabrillo Middle School. The 49ers SLI provides multi-year, year-round academic support, STEM enrichment, skills training, and leadership opportunities to students in middle and high school. 

Jain admits that distance learning has been a challenge for her, and says that staying focused isn’t always easy, but says it’s working for her because of hard work, a balanced approach, and support from her parents.

Here are some pointers from Jain on how to stay focussed during distance learning:

  • Create a checklist and study timeline of daily/weekly tasks 
  • Stay organized
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Creating a virtual study group with peers to help stay motivated and offer support to each other
  • Take part in stress-buster activities like online sports, online movie night, or family time

Jain explained that balancing schooling with volunteerism can be difficult (especially if students are taking AP classes), but says that if you offer your services in an area that you are passionate about, you will find time to make it happen.

“No amount of volunteer work is small enough to bring the change and spread the smile in your local community,” said Jain.