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A change starts with you

Our lives are like a book. Especially during these unprecedented times, everyone has a tale to tell, each one different, unique, and special. Today, let’s flip through a few pages of Alissa Shen’s story. 

Alissa, a sophomore at St.Stephen’s Epispicol School, who donated 162 hours of her time to the benefit of her community, is a gold medal winner of the PVSA award. She volunteered as a grader at Dr. Shen’s math classes, starting even before the pandemic. Alissa also worked as a teacher’s assistant for DSM’s algebra and geometry courses and made numerous face masks with the help of her brother. 

Alissa learned to act for the greater good of others at a young age, to have the courage and motivation to make the world a better place with everything she did, every step she took. 

“Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone. Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety. Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression. Your glance can awaken joy. Your words can inspire freedom. Your every act can open hearts and minds.”


At first, the mask-making process came with difficulty. Tired hands and the process of repetitions made the task feel sometimes impossible. “However, if you focus on what you’re doing, and take things one thing at a time, then it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.” Alissa says. What was overwhelming was the final product of 2 large Trader Joe’s bags filled with handmade masks, ready to be distributed to schools and hospitals. 

Volunteering as a teacher’s assistant and grader wasn’t easy either. “You have to adjust the way that you teach by how the kids learn. It was sometimes confusing because everyone thinks differently, but I feel like this is an ability that I could use later in life.”  

Alissa tells us: “Stepping out of your comfort zone can benefit many others in your community. The experience of volunteering amid a global pandemic was empowering, there was development, and despite all the distance, I felt connected.”  She motivates us to work harder everyday, to create change for the better. Because after all, a change starts with a whisper; a change starts with you.  


Michelle Li

“After a lifetime of darkness, I want to leave something behind that is made of light.”

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