It was a surprise to Burlingame High students Afsheen Ahmed and Leah Goldman when their names were announced as recipients of the Students in Action (SIA) Jefferson Awards on Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Burlingame High School rally and then again at the Little Big Game on Saturday, Nov. 12. But it was no surprise to the students and faculty who know them for their dedication to both their school and their community.
The nationally recognized SIA/Jefferson awards are given to students who have made a significant impact in the community or at their school. Students are nominated by their peers, who fill out a detailed nomination form that challenges them to consider “uniqueness, impact, dedication and diversity,” when making their nominations. Then the executive committee of the SIA club at Burlingame High makes the selection of the winners.
SIA and the awards program is part of a national youth leadership program launched in 2006 by the Jefferson Awards for Public Service and corporate partner Deloitte. Burlingame High is one of 325 high schools in 13 communities across the U.S. participating in this program, which encourages high school students to get engaged and be the change that they wish to see in their communities.
A busy senior in the midst of filling out college applications, Ahmed dedicates her weekends to volunteering at the San Mateo Convalescent Hospital.
“Many of the seniors there don’t have family. I enjoy talking to them and learning from their experiences,” she saida.
During the week she volunteers with a non-emergency medical transportation company called Easy Ride, driving patients to and from medical appointments. She also reads to children at the Daly City Public Library and volunteers with the San Francisco Cadet Squadron 86 of the Civil Air Patrol, training for emergency and disaster preparedness around the Bay Area.
At Burlingame High, she’s been a part of the Leadership Club, Human Relations Commission, Dance Club and Polynesian Club. Her volunteer activities have gotten her interested in pursuing a major in biology in college, and down the road, a career in a medical field. She’ll be applying to San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco for next year, and she’s also considering joining the Air Force Reserve.
A sophomore at Burlingame High, Goldman is dedicated to community service.
“It’s very nice to be recognized, but I participate in community service because I love doing it,” she said.
Starting as a sixth- grader, she’s been working on the Mitzvah Garden Project at Peninsula Temple Sholom, the synagogue where her family attends. The garden grows and provides fresh produce for CALL Primrose, a Burlingame nonprofit that distributes food to northern San Mateo County families. Goldman has also volunteered with Home and Hope, a local organization that assists homeless families. Since fifth grade, she has been making jewelry which she sells at open houses she hosts throughout the year, and donates 20 percent of the proceeds to Home and Help and other charitable organizations.
At Burlingame High, she and a group of friends started the Key Club, which collects sports equipment and clothing to donate to underprivileged children in the community. She’s also involved with Relay for Life and is a varsity swimmer.
These two students will also be honored at a Jefferson Awards evening ceremony in January at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, along with all the past year's recipients from the Bay Area.