MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Whether he's serving food to the homeless or entertaining senior citizens as fun, Westlake High School senior Jonathan Alania has shown himself to be a "true leader," said a Mount Pleasant Rotary Club announcement.
That is why he was selected the club's March Student of the Month.
The teenager was singled out for his dedication to community service who gives his time because, "It's nice to see someone smile," said Alania.
That attitude, along with his steadfast service, leadership abilities and stellar grades is why the club took notice, said the release.
It is through both his family and his church, Iglesia Misión Bautista Hispana de Westchester, a Spanish-speaking ministry established at the First Baptist Church of White Plains, that Alania found the desire and opportunity to serve.
“Ever since I was a kid I tried to be helpful. My parents always told me to work hard and help people when you can, to give back, essentially,” he said.
The Misión Bautista provided that venue. As a freshman, Alania joined the ministry and a year later became its president.
Among efforts, the group serves meals at soup kitchens in New York City and visit senior citizens to play music and engage residents.
Alania also teaches Sunday school and plays piano for his church.
Academically, Alania is the president of the Spanish Honor Society as well as a member of the National Honor Society, Students Against Destructive Decisions club and the Spanish club.
On the athletic side, he competes on the swim team during the winter and in the spring he throws the javelin and shot put on the track team.
He said his work ethic is inherited from his Peruvian grandfather who was orphaned but worked from a young age to become successful. “His whole life is rags to riches story,” explained Alania, saying that his grandfather is his inspiration.
“Every moral that my parents instilled in me was from my grandpa.”
In college, Alania plans to major in computer science or engineering, and minor in music.
For his dedication to the community and his school, Alania was celebrated at the March 8 Rotary luncheon where he received a plaque and recognition.