LYNNWOOD — Jonny DelaCruz is a volunteer superstar who has a passion for helping others, from Seattle to Tanzania.
Question: Your principal mentioned that you are outstanding in your volunteer work. Tell us about some of the things you’re involved in.
Answer: I volunteered over 250 hours in a nonprofit called LETI, which stands for Latino Educational Training Institute. It offers help with GED in Spanish, basic life skills, like setting up a bank account. … Through that I really got involved in helping people.
In the beginning of high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. When I started volunteering, I found something I was good at.
After that, I decided to volunteer at the level one trauma center at Harborview Medical Center. I thought, I want to help people and see what a hospital environment is like. It was exciting. I learned a lot from it.
Q: From there, you did some searching and found a medical internship program, Gap Medics, that offers study-abroad programs.
A: I was in Tanzania for two weeks, shadowing a doctor. All the volunteer work I had done before, it made me able to comfortably go in to a setting like that — because going into a developing country, to shadow a doctor and a nurse, can be scary.
Q: What did you draw from that experience?
A: A lot of Americans are in their own bubble. Sometimes you have to get out of that bubble to help others. … It’s expensive, but it’s really worth it and changes who you are as a person.
Q: Your school is quite diverse, and the activities you are involved with at LHS reflect that.
A: I’m in (Black Student Union) and Colores Unidos, which is kind of focused on Hispanic-Latino representation in Western Washington, which I find really comforting. … In Black Student Union we’re holding a Black Lives Matter and MLK assembly (Jan. 13) with Colores Unidos. I hope it will instill some hope, with the new president-elect. … We’re all OK and will be OK.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: I’m in (Advanced Placement) biology, AP government. I’m also taking the regular classes — English, personal finance, algebra 2, economics. My favorite would have to be AP government. Having class during the election season … has been really informative and I like it, and the teacher’s awesome.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: I would have to say Cesar Chavez. It’s, like, a cliche probably. But he instilled hope. If you think about the history and how he worked with the United Farm Workers of America to make a change in their situation and give voice to their situation. … He’s my inspiration because I want to do that in the future.
Q: What is it about helping others that has made such a big impact on your life?
A: This one time at Harborview, there was this kid who looked kind of like me. He came out of jaw surgery with a cast on his face. His mother didn’t speak a lot of English, and she was having trouble talking to the nurses. It was a Friday, and there weren’t a lot of staff around. Luckily enough I was there. I saw myself in him, because my family also immigrated to America (from Mexico). I was able to help her… The fact that that could have been me, it settled in me. So when I help other people, it’s like I still see him.
Q: So where do you go from here with this passion for helping?
A: I plan to go to either Seattle Central Community College for two years or the University of Washington Bothell, and then transfer to UW and get my bachelor’s in public health hopefully. … There’s a sense of purpose for me to help others … and help other people do that.
Q: How does it feel to be a senior?
A: It’s very anti-climactic. You just realize your past years and what you’ve accomplished — but it’s not what it seems (it was made out to be). Everyone has their own kind of story.
Q: Anything else to add?
A: I’d like to give a shout-out to the kids of color growing up in Western societies who feel disconnected from their culture — they are valid and not alone.
Melissa Slager: email@example.com; 425-339-3432.