The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards bestowed top honors to two Missouri students for their exceptional acts of volunteerism in their local communities last week. Missouri’s top youth volunteers for 2021 include:
- Shruti Gautam, Rock Bridge High School, Columbia Public Schools
- Karlee Doak, Lexington Middle School, Lexington R-V School District
Gautam, a high school senior, arranged to place free feminine hygiene products in the bathrooms of every high school in her school district, and worked on legislation to require that these products be readily available in high schools throughout Missouri. Doak, a seventh-grader, made hundreds of face masks and donated them to nursing homes, a local hospital, a pharmacy, friends and others who needed them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are proud to celebrate Shruti and Karlee for their dedication to improving the lives of those in their schools and local communities,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “It is important that we take time to recognize not only our students’ academic achievements, but also the work they’re doing to grow into exceptional citizens and neighbors. I commend each of these young women for their inspiring efforts and know they will represent Missouri well at the national level.”
As state honorees, Gautam and Doak will each receive a $2,500 scholarship, an engraved silver medallion and an invitation to the program’s virtual recognition event in April, when 10 of the 102 state honorees will be named America’s top youth volunteers of the year. Those 10 national honorees will earn an additional $5,000 scholarship, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their nominating organization and a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.
Six additional Missouri students were named distinguished finalists in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, including:
- Vishwasri Aleti, Marquette High School, Rockwood School District
- Aaliyah Aramjoo-Hull, Staley High School, North Kansas City Schools
- Agha Haider, Whitfield School, St. Louis
- Rincon Jagarlamudi, Marquette High School, Rockwood School District
- Devin Kancherla, Saint Louis Priory School, St. Louis
- Emily Yn, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, St. Louis
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created in 1995 in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to emphasize the importance of service to others and to encourage all students to contribute to their communities.