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South L.A. Students Honored for Volunteerism

Ten Receive Bill Coggins Award from Watts Counseling and Learning Center

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High school students are busy, but that didn’t stop Jason Anderson from volunteering. During his junior year at King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, Anderson gave his time to the Urgent Care department at Martin Luther King, Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center (MLK-MACC), where he quickly learned the ins and outs of urgent care and recognized the importance of the patient experience. He made it a point to talk with waiting patients in hopes of lifting up their spirits. Anderson demonstrated self-initiative daily, and plans to attend UCLA this fall to pursue a career as a psychiatrist.

“He really got involved with patients, making them feel more comfortable and relaxed,” said Tonja Wilson, supervising staff nurse at MLK-MACC.

“I plan to continue working with patients experiencing hardships because I know I can connect with them and make a difference,” Anderson said.

And that is why Anderson and nine other college-bound students from the greater South Los Angeles area who have demonstrated outstanding service to their community are receiving the 2014 Bill Coggins Community Leadership Award from Kaiser Permanente’s Watts Counseling and Learning Center.

Named after the founding director of the Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center, the award, which ranges from $750-$1500, was created to honor community leadership and help young people reach their next educational milestone. Since the establishment of the award in 1997, the Watts Counseling and Learning Center has given more than $200,000 to outstanding community leaders.

Another recipient, Jose Vasquez from South East High School, is an aspiring physician and will be attending UCLA. Tired of hearing about the obesity epidemic, Vasquez decided to do something about it and organized a Relay for Health event at his high school, which drew neighbors to participate in a day full of play, healthy eating, and community building. “Serving as a leader in my school I found that I could help improve not only the lives of my fellow students, but also my community,” he said.

As a middle school student Vasquez participated in Kaiser Permanente’s Hippocrates Circle Program, which motivates students to become physicians. As a sophomore Vasquez also participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center.

This year’s recipients will be attending California State University Dominguez Hills, California State University Los Angeles, Stanford University, and University of California at Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine and Davis.

Pictured frrom left to right, top row: Jose Vasquez, Jason Anderson, Taryn Thrasher, Jason Anderson, Watts Counseling and Learning Center Co-founder Bill Coggins, Jessy Rosales, Diego Garcia and Watts Counseling and Learning Center Educational Therapist Jose Chavez. Bottom row: Watts Counseling and Learning Center Executive Director Joanne Robinson, Jasmine Lopez-Gutierrez, Shanai Beime, Genesis Herrera, Hermes Lopez and Watts Counseling and Learning Center Administrative Services Supervisor Alice Holt.