HOWELL – It’s hard work being a high school senior these days—between exams, college applications and prom. But some, including Howell High School senior Kiana Stockwell, manage to find room in their busy schedules to give back to their local and global communities.
Kiana was awarded for her community service efforts at this year’s Monmouth County Caring Awards, along with 36 other selfless seniors from surrounding high schools.
The annual Caring Awards, which are run by the Monmouth County Guidance Director Association, honor one student from every Monmouth County high school who shows exceptional caring and compassion to a cause during their high school career. Students are nominated by their teachers and administrators, then asked to create a two-minute video highlighting their community service efforts.
Kiana’s video shows her working with students in Howell’s autism program, fundraising for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life and coordinating events for Global Citizens, an organization that works to end extreme poverty.
“I just really love doing what I do. I want other children, and people in general, to receive a helping hand when they need one, and if given an opportunity to show someone kindness or help in a bigger way, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to give back,” Kiana told The Howell Times.
Adopted from China before her first birthday, Kiana credits her extremely supportive parents as a reason for her compassionate and empathetic nature.
“I think being adopted has taught me a lot about perspective and gratitude,” she shared.
Last year, Kiana’s fundraising efforts for Howell High School’s Relay For Life brought in 1,000 participants and raised over $115,000 to fight cancer. She also dedicated her sixteenth and seventeenth birthdays to campaigns for Global Citizens, raising over $5,000 in two years through various fundraising events that helped fight extreme poverty. Global Citizens CEO Hugh Evans thanked Kiana for her efforts in the video, calling her a true global citizen.
“Congratulations on being recognized for your service in your community and beyond,” said Evans. “Your hard work supporting the work of Global Citizens in our campaigns and recruiting others to be involved will have a lasting impact on those living in extreme poverty.”
Her school counselor Anthony Bonjavanni attended the awards ceremony in support of Kiana and shared similar sentiments. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Kiana these last few years,” he said. “She is such a selfless and genuine young lady and well deserving of this honor. Kiana is not only a great role model for our student body and her peers but she is an inspiration to our entire community.”
Kiana shared that by giving back, she learns more about her own interests, passions strengths and weaknesses.
“I know community service will always be a part of my life,” she said. “I plan to continue pursuing it and I am excited to discover new opportunities in the future. I have always envisioned it being a career, a life passion of mine, or both.”
Other Caring Award recipients from the Freehold Regional High School District were Lauren Harrison from Colts Neck High School, Ethan Greenberg from Freehold Boro High School, Michael Stern from Freehold Township High School, Elaina Francis from Manalapan High School and Isha Patel from Marlboro High School.
A list of all 2017 Caring Award recipients and their videos can be found at mcgda.org/caring-award-2017.html.