Blue Island teen’s rule of thumb: Lend a hand
By Cheryl Dangel Bartolini Correspondent July 30, 2014 12:06PM
Updated: September 1, 2014 7:54AM
Ashley Cedeno is a senior-to-be at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, and one can bet that she will fill her days with extracurricular activities that involve paying it forward in the community.
As a member of the National Honor Society, Cedeno’s favorite activity is helping out in the community.
“My passion is helping people, so I enjoy helping the community and involving all my classmates,” she said. “I like the feeling of helping everybody.”
It is a drive that comes naturally, said Cedeno, 16.
“I have just always been into helping people. If it were up to me, I’d help people every single day,” she said.
National Honor Society provides a structured avenue for students to become involved in various community service activities, and the organization encourages students to seek out their own volunteer opportunities.
“One I did on my own was volunteering at a homeless shelter. We hand out bags of bread at the shelter from Panera,” she said. “We clean the kitchen, cook lunch and dinner, serve the meals and converse with the homeless. We often spend the whole day with them.
“I think what has impacted me the most is the look in their faces. The gratitude on their faces when we give them the food is so incredible. They have so little and are so happy. It makes me think that material things don’t matter in the end.”
In addition to her community service, Cedeno, who earned Honors with Distinction, the highest academic honor a high school student can receive in Community High School District 218, is active with Leo Club, another service organization; Peer Buddy, a group of students who give their time to special-education kids; and she performs in the musicals. She also participates in track and is a member of the Faith Bible Study Group that meets at Eisenhower.
Cedeno, a resident of Blue Island, is the daughter of Griselda and Eugenio Cedeno. She says her mother is her role model.
“Since I was little, she has always instructed me to do my best,” Ashley said. “She has helped me with everything no matter how big or small. She has tried to help me on the right path.”
After high school, Cedeno would like to go into medicine.
“I want to help people,” Cedeno said. “Right now, my top pick is the University of Illinois-Chicago because I heard they have a good medical program.”
She says her parents and her teachers keep her motivated.
“I also think having a personal relationship with God helps me pursue everything and keep on top of my stuff,” she said.
She says focusing on the end result helps keep her on track.
“I tell myself I’d rather work and suffer now than later. So all those nights of studying will eventually pay off,” she said.