It’s not every day a high school student gets formally recognized by an assemblymember. But that’s what happened to Santa Clara High School senior Ajaipal “AJ” Chahal when Assemblymember Kansen Chu presented him with a Community Hero award at a special ceremony at a Milpitas senior center on May 28.
“At the event, community heroes were recognized, and it was wonderful to hear their stories about what they did in their community,” says Chahal. “I want to thank Assemblymember Kansen Chu for holding this event because it gave us a chance to share our ideas and [for him to] learn about what we’re doing in our neighborhoods. There are many people deserving of the award and I want to also thank City Councilmember Dominic Caserta for graciously nominating me. Caserta is also a teacher at my school and I’ll be in his class next year. He teaches Government and Civics.”
“There are so many unsung heroes in our community and they help do so many things,” says Chu, who represents California’s 25th Assembly District. “I would have no hesitation nominating AJ myself because I’ve seen him and his family in action in the City of Santa Clara for many years. He’s president of the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association’s Youth Commission and has many other achievements. He is a role model for youth in our community.”
Elected to the National Board of Directors for Sister Cities International, Chahal has been working to make the Sister Cities exchanges more affordable and accessible. Although Chahal is terming out on the city’s Youth Commission, he intends to remain involved and attend meetings as a member at large. While serving on the commission, Chahal helped organize the Santa Clara’s Got Talent competition and served on a scholarship committee as well.
As Chahal prepares to enter his final year of high school, he is reflecting on his future plans.
“Whatever career I choose, I want to make sure I can make a positive change in our community,” he says. “Right now, I’m interested in government and politics. I hope that one day our government and political system can be equitable and representative of all people. I think Assemblymember Kansen Chu is doing just that by being a responsive representative.”