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Gwinnett student wins $1,000 award for volunteerism

A junior at the Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology has been recognized for being a companion and mentor to young Bhutan refugees.

Devneet Singh, 17, has been named as the state’s high school winner of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, which allots her $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for several days of national recognition events later this month, according to Prudential’s website.

Prudential partnered with the National Association of Secondary School Principals to create the awards program in 1995 to honor middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level. Since then, 115,000 youth volunteers have been recognized through the Spirit of Community Awards. Damācia Howard, a seventh-grader at Atlanta's Georgia Cyber Academy, won Georgia's middle school level Spirit of Community Awards. 

While working as a lead volunteer coordinator in Atlanta for Sikh Educational Welfare Association Inc. (SEWA), an international humanitarian organization, Singh taught classes on math, science and English to Bhutanese students ranging from 5 to 17 last summer.

“Half of all refugees are children subject to war, religious persecution and famine,” Singh said in a written statement. “I couldn’t help but be motivated by such adversity.”

After one of her students expressed astonishment at being given a pencil of her own, Singh organized a car wash that raised $300 for school supplies. She also served as vice president of a 5K run that raised $7,000 for SEWA’s animal rights campaign. 

In addition to these efforts, the Duluth junior also has invited other youth to get involved by compiling photographs and video footage from her refugee experience into a promotional video.

“I am passionate about this relief effort, because it is a way that I can directly aid the children of refugees, immigrants and other hard-pressed members of the international community," she said.

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