Amidst a global pandemic, social distancing has been enforced in various parts of the world in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. During these times, social distancing can be especially difficult for teenagers, who may feel disconnect from their friends and peers as the school year has come to an abrupt end. This has caused many letdowns for teens as their traditional school events that they have looked forward to for many years have been altered, postponed or completely cancelled. This includes proms, graduations, vacations, sports seasons and other extracurricular events.
In spite of this, Filipino-American student from Adams High School in Rochester Hills, Michigan was bestowed the “2020 Youth Recognition Award” by the board of directors of Rochester Area Youth Assistance (RAYA).
RAYA states that she was awarded for her strong desire to give back to her community as well as those around the world in need. She spearheaded the “Dora Backpack Drive,” a school supply drive that provided supplies to a remote village in Isabela, Philippines. In addition, she traveled to the Philippines this past July to participate in a program called “Precious Moments with Senior Citizens,” in order to feed and serve for senior citizens in the area. While in the Philippines, she also participated in the “Tsinelas Drive,” a supply drive that donates flip-flops to needy children. RAYA declares that Jeanelle is a great example of selflessness among her peers and the award was given to her in recognition of her perseverance and passion for her distinguished service going above and beyond.
The Rochester Area Youth Assistance programs are provided to help children facing various challenges but equally important they strive to recognize those young people who have exhibited exemplary qualities. The award program honors deserving youth who endeavor to overcome major obstacles to reach their goals, demonstrate perseverance beyond the ordinary, exhibit extraordinary strength in reaching beyond their limitations, or volunteering their time in the community.
Honorable Judges Lisa Asadoorian, Nancy Carniak, Julie Nicolson of the 52-3 District Court in Michigan further recognized Jeanelle’s accomplishments and service to the community and accorded her a commendation certificate while Oakland County Executive David Coulter presented Jeanelle a “Special Award of Recognition” in celebration of her accomplishments.
Mayor Bryan K. Barnett of the City of Rochester Hills likewise conferred Jeanelle with the “2020 Annual Youth Recognition Award Recipient” for her achievements going above and beyond the ordinary. A “Youth Recognition Award of Achievement” was awarded to her by Michigan State Representative Michael Webber of the 45th House District.
The Oakland County Sheriff, Michael Bouchard honored her with the “Outstanding Youth Citizen 2020” award for her outstanding efforts within the community and commended her leadership and selfless dedication to serving the community. The county sheriff acknowledged that her achievement is one that deserves the highest praise and her commitment to excellence is greatly appreciated and will be remembered for the years to come.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners in Michigan created a proclamation of commendation as an “Extraordinary Young Citizen” for the spirit of caring that she has demonstrated to others in the community.
She is set to graduate from Rochester Adams High School in June 2020 and will receive a Scholar of Distinction Award (attains a 3.8-3.899 or higher GPA, three or more AP courses, and a composite ACT of 28 OR SAT composite of 1310 or higher). She held the position of a section leader in the Highlander Marching Band and was given commendation of the Four Year Award for being a part of the Concert Ensemble, Marching Band, and Jazz Band.
In January, she was accepted into the University of Michigan School of Nursing in Ann Arbor, one of the world’s top 20 universities in 2019 according to the World Universities Ranking by Times Higher Education.
Jeanelle was born in Manila in August 2002 and is the youngest of two siblings. She was left in the Philippines along with her one-year-old brother when her parents made the decision to immigrate and work to the United States exactly a month after she was born. Jeanelle and her brother joined their parents in the US after 18 months.
She offers her achievement to her parents and to her aunt, Shirley Mapili who took care of her and her brother in the Philippines but passed away in Ontario, Canada in November 2019 from breast cancer at the age of 40. She narrates that her aunt died with cancer but won her battle in many ways including her aunt’s love to her and her kids.