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Rio Rancho High Student Named State's Top High School Youth Volunteer
Brianna Swinderman, Satyam Patel Earn President's Volunteer Service Awards

Rio Rancho High School junior Brianna Swinderman has been chosen as New Mexico’s top high school youth volunteer in the 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.   As one of New Mexico’s two State Honorees for 2013, Brianna (shown at right with Prudential's Chad Cooper) is being recognized for demonstrated leadership and outstanding acts of community service. 

Based on her number of volunteer hours, she has also qualified for the President’s Volunteer Service Award that recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of time to serve their communities and their country. Another Rio Rancho High School volunteer, Satyam Patel, has also been honored for his exemplary volunteer service with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. 

Brianna will receive a $1,000 award, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for a series of national recognition events from May 4 – 7, 2013, as a State Honoree. A President’s Volunteer Service Award certificate and a letter from the President will be mailed to Swinderman’s home address.

During the trip to Washington, D.C., Brianna will also compete with other State Honorees to be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013. Five middle school and five high school students will be named National Honorees on May 6, 2013, and will receive additional awards of $5,000, gold medallions, crystal trophies, and $5,000 grants from the Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

Through Brianna's efforts, more than 2,000 pieces of new or gently-used luggage and duffel bags have been collected and will be given to foster children and victims of domestic violence in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque in the ambitious campaign dubbed “Bags of Hope”. Her campaign has been so successful that the National Foster Parent Association has asked Brianna to help create a similar campaign on a national scale.  Her interest in this project stemmed from her familiarity with situations facing foster children and families fleeing domestic abuse.  Often foster children and families fleeing domestic abuse have only garbage bags to carry their belongings. “This sends a message that they, and their possessions, are trash,” said Brianna. “My hope is to give hope, dignity, and self-esteem to these victims.”

Satyam Patel (shown at left with Cooper and RRHS Principal Richard VonAncken) participated in the Spirit of Community program as a representative of Rio Rancho High School this year and earned his President’s Volunteer Service Award certificate and a letter from the President by volunteering his time with Vista Care Hospice. He also visited patients at the Home and Inpatient Hospital Unit at Lovelace Medical Center.

Patel found his experience to be fulfilling, saying, “It is rewarding to help such a needy population; they are on end-of-life care. The wisdom they imparted to me is memorable.”

Principal VonAncken, says, “It is gratifying to see this young man contribute back to his community in such a positive way. He is a role model to others.”

Sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program has considered more than 370,000 young people across America for these awards since the inception of the program in 1995.

Mission: Rio Rancho Public Schools is dedicated to graduating each student with an educational foundation for success as a responsible, ethical contributor to society.

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