Amanda Quinones volunteered more hours of her time last year than many people do in a lifetime. And at 23 years old, she’s just getting started.
In May, Quinones was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her work with the Hispanic College Fund (HCF) where she volunteered more than 100 hours on the committee that planned the organization’s Hispanic Youth Symposium.
“She takes her volunteer service as seriously as she does her professional job,” said Rosa Castillo, HCF’s volunteer programs manager.
“She’s always willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done—from delivering water to making name tags to doing a presentation on public service. That’s rare in a volunteer.
Quinones began working on HCF’s youth symposium—basically, a one-stop college preparation boot camp for Hispanic high school students—in 2007 while interning at the Department of Labor.
“I fell in love with the symposium,” Quinones says. “I love seeing the students come together. On that first day, some of them are closed off. They had that usual high school attitude. But by the end of the third day, you see that they have completely changed. Our work helps them change their opinions on going to college."
The Brooklyn-born daughter of Italian and Puerto Rican parents—“Only in New York!” she jests—volunteered throughout her growing years. As an AU member of APO, a community service fraternity, she helped resurrect Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad–Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, a Latina community service group.
“She’s very disciplined, very focused, and so connected with the community. She’s done more community service than anybody I know,” says Lorenley Baez, AU’s assistant director of multicultural affairs.
Quinones joined the Department of Energy full time after graduating from AU in December 2008. As a program analyst for DOE’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, she helps manage a minority student internship program.
Next year she plans to attend graduate school, where she hopes to study public health.
It’s a natural extension of her life’s work. “I’ve always been interested in disease prevention, especially looking at the communities I’m involved with,” she says. “Puerto Ricans and Latinas are very affected when it comes to diabetes and heart disease.
Whatever her future holds, Quinones knows volunteering will remain a big part of her life.
“I always encourage people to volunteer and engage in their communities,” she says. “As much as you put in and give back to others, you get so much more out of it. Knowing that you can make a difference in somebody’s life does volumes.”