The Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime has long been a force for community service through a number of activities and events that help make the Goleta Valley a better place. One such program, Goleta Teen of the Year, honors a local high school senior for his or her involvement in the community.
On Thursday night, Dos Pueblos High School senior Shandeep Ahdi received the coveted award.
Ahdi, honored during a ceremony at the UCSB Faculty Club, was among 51 total applicants, only 17 of whom completed all of the requirements. From that group, five finalists were chosen. In an unusual coincidence, all five seniors selected were from Dos Pueblos High.
The Teen of the Year candidates went through a rigorous program starting in August 2010. They attended seminars where they learned essential skills like financial literacy and how to interview and they volunteered in the community with the Rotary Club and other organizations. During the process, the candidates were expected to maintain a 2.7 GPA to remain eligible for the award.
Ahdi demonstrated a strong background of community service and involvement. She volunteers with Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and the Everybody Dance Now! organization and is active with the Hindu Temple Ventura County.
At school, she maintains a 4.54 GPA and was a National Merit Scholar semifinalist. She is heavily involved in clubs on campus, including the American Red Cross, the Interact Club and the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy. As a sophomore, she was one of the first students to volunteer as a student mentor at The Academy at Dos Pueblos High School.
Ahdi plans to pursue a degree in medicine and become a pediatrician. She enjoys reading, playing basketball and volleyball, cultural dance and mentoring.
Through all of her accomplishments, she said she is proud of the person she has become.
“I am proud of my years in high school,” she wrote in her application. “I have effectively gotten far in my four years.”
Ahdi, the daughter of Gagan and Darshan Ahdi, is the second member of her family to achieve Goleta Teen of the Year honors. Her brother, Hardeep, a sophomore at UCSB, earned the award in 2009. Her younger brother, Anmole, is a Dos Pueblos High sophomore, and intends to enter the program to try to give the family three of the awards.
Emcee Larry Crandell announced Ahdi as the 2011 winner, and Shelby Sim, director of business and development for the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, presented her with a scholarship bond for $1,000. She was also awarded a $2,500 college scholarship.
Her first official duty is Friday evening at the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave., where she will flip the switch at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The public is invited to the free event, which gets under way at 5:30 p.m.
Nino Mireles, the son of Jessica and Rene Mireles, was the first runner-up. In another coincidence, Nino’s sister, Leah, was first runner-up in 2007.
The three other finalists were Preston Bies, son of Susan and Walt Bies; Christina Blair, daughter of Louise and Peter Blair; and Michael Yi, son of Wonkyung and Juneho Yi.
Each finalist received $1,000 and could choose his or her favorite nonprofit to receive a $150 donation from the Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime.
Last year’s winner, Morgan Lunt, received a number of proclamations and certificates in recognition of his service over the last 12 months as Goleta Teen of the Year. The Dos Pueblos High graduate and UC San Diego freshman was unable to attend Thursday’s ceremony because of finals, but was represented by his brother, Aaron, a Dos Pueblos High sophomore.
The Goleta Teen of the Year program has been running for 36 years, beginning in 1976. What was once just a competition for women, it now encompasses both male and female teens in their senior year of high school at Bishop Diego, Dos Pueblos, Laguna Blanca and San Marcos high schools and living within the 93110, 93111 or 93117 ZIP codes.
In addition to the Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime, the program is sponsored by Deckers Outdoors Corp., the city of Goleta, Goleta Jewelers, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, Luxury Limousine, Windhaven Glider Rides, Land and Sea Tours, Accrued Benefit Administrators, Anna’s Bakery, Chili’s, Metropolitan Theatres, P.J.‘s Hallmark, Santa Barbara Airbus, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Zoo, Studio Music Group, Sushi-Ai and Sweet Alley.
The Goleta Teen of the Year committee was chaired by Barbara Klein, who was joined by Connie Burns, Michael Gartzke, David Gore, Steve Jones, Christine LeBon, Diane McClenathen, Patricia McFarland, Clara van Meeuwen, Karin Napel, Reyne Stapelman and Alex Yamashiro.
This year’s judges were Michelle Apodaca, executive assistant at Deckers Outdoors Corp.; retired real estate agent Connie Burns; Goleta City Councilwoman Margaret Connell; Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen; and Eric Onnen, president of Santa Barbara Airbus.
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