Arlington teen exemplifies Leo C. Benavides Award

Posted Sunday, Apr. 27, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Award winners

This year’s Leo C. Benavides Award winners

Alejandra Aguilar, Fort Worth North Side High School

Kaitlin Bethay, Keller High School

Richard Blackwell, Fort Worth Western Hills High School

Ezra Caballero, Fort Worth Southwest High School

Immalynn Cervantes, White Settlement Brewer High School

Gary Clark, Fort Worth Wyatt High School

Kwameisha Darden, Fort Worth South Hills High School

Rachel Deaton, Keller Central High School

Candace Elliott, Birdville Shannon Learning Center

Yaritza Gloria, Haltom High School

Jason Harper, Fort Worth Poly High School

Alexandria Hoang, Arlington Seguin High School

Kaela Lawrence, Keller Fossil Ridge High School

Shatera Lloyd, Fort Worth Dunbar High School

David Mirambi, Fort Worth Carter-Riverside High School

Emma Nichols-Payne, Fort Worth Paschal High School

Christine Ngo, Keller Timber Creek High School

Briana Olivarez, Fort Worth Arlington Heights High School

Xavier Perez, Fort Worth Diamond Hill Jarvis High School

Destiny Redmond, Fort Worth Eastern Hills High School

Kriston Royal, Fort Worth Trimble Tech High School

Andrea Russell, Arlington High School

Akeira Warner, Fort Worth Country Day

Daphne Wolfe, Saginaw Boswell High School

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Psychologist Jean Twenge labeled the current generation of young people “Generation Me.”

In her research-based books she describes how youths today feel entitled and are self-absorbed, preoccupied with me, myself and I.

Alexandria Hoang doesn’t have time for those who lament or sneer at what they perceive are the deficiencies in the character of America’s rising generation.

The 18-year-old senior at Arlington Seguin High School is too busy educating, encouraging and empowering others.

When she’s not assisting in a cancer awareness week at her school in south Arlington she’s helping the Tarrant County Medical Reserve Corps package book orders to send to children in low-income communities or translating fliers about influenza and West Nile virus into Vietnamese.

She makes Christmas and Valentine’s cards for patients at Cook Children’s Medical Center.

She planted trees at Texas Woman’s University.

She helped organize a blood drive at school.

Hoang is a 5-foot-1 dynamo of public service.

“A go-getter,” said Judith Bazan, an intervention specialist in the Arlington school district. “With her it’s always, ‘C’mon, let’s do this! Let’s do that!’ She believes she can make a difference.”

‘Overwhelmed’ by her service

When Hoang sees a need she takes the initiative.

As president of the Seguin student body and the oldest of five sisters, Hoang pours herself into one project after another with the same boundless energy she give to her teammates on the school volleyball team.

She and 23 other Tarrant County high school students were recently named recipients of the 16th annual Leo C. Benavides Award sponsored by Tarrant County Challenge, a nonprofit drug coalition.

The award was established to recognize area students who demonstrate exceptional volunteerism and contributions within their schools and communities.

A medallion is presented to each recipient in memory of Leo C. Benavides, a former board member of the Tarrant County Challenge Because We Care Program and executive director of the Tarrant County Medical Society from 1980 until his death in 1993.

Benavides served on the boards of dozens of Tarrant County nonprofit groups and was a staunch youth advocate who believed in the value of service to others.

Each high school in Tarrant County may nominate one student for the Benavides award.

“I am overwhelmed by all [Hoang] does,” Bazan wrote on the nomination form that summarized Hoang’s civic activities.

Hoang is actively involved in HOSA, a national student organization endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. She has assisted Tarrant County Public Health in educating people about the affordable care act.

‘We did it!’

The high school senior, who plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in biomedical sciences recently served as a volunteer “buddy” in the Miracle League, a baseball program for special-needs children. The organization’s motto is “Every child deserves a chance to play baseball.”

A boy named Pedro stepped to the plate, swung the bat and began to run. “We did it!’ the child cried as he danced on first base and grabbed his buddy’s hand.

Together, side-by-side, around the infield they went.

Second base.

“We did it!”

Third base.

“We did it!”

Finally, here they came, full circle. Home at last.

“I really loved that,” Hoang said of the experience. “Pedro’s mother told me he expressed himself that day in a way he never had before.”

On the back of the Benavides medal is a quote from author and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia. They are words that ring true for Hoang, and others like her.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

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