Perry High School Volunteer Helps Students ‘Reach Higher’

April 20, 2020
| by:
Communications and Public Affairs

Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 19-25) is another chance to highlight those who give back to their community. Whether they give their time, expertise or donations, volunteers are passionate about what they do and have a tremendous impact on our community.

Meet Adeel Chaudhry, the winner of the 2020 Mayor’s Choice Volunteer Recognition Award, for the work he’s done to help bring college access to his fellow students of all backgrounds.

Adeel is a model student at Perry High School as well as the co-founder of the Perry chapter of Reach Higher. The club, based on a nationally recognized initiative created by Michelle Obama, seeks to recognize and support students to further their college and career plans. 

Adeel serves as the president of the club and demonstrates his passion for supporting students by tirelessly working to create a fun, inclusive, supportive environment for club members. 

Q&A with Adeel Chaudhry

Q: Describe Reach Higher. What is it and why did you decide to start it?

A: Reach Higher is a college-readiness organization that was founded based on the initiative originally created by Michelle Obama. The club was formed out of the campus career center on campus. At the time there was a counselor there (Toni Horn) who was able to help with the college process and deciding which school you want to go to. The second week of freshman year, I told her what I wanted to do for college, but also what I wanted to do in high school. I had a goal to help other people and was looking for a platform to do that on. I had the idea to make the club to help students explore and prepare for college. It was a good match, because she had the opportunity to use the Reach Higher organization to start a chapter at Perry. We began the chapter together with her as the sponsor and me as the president. 

As president, I run the meetings and coordinate what we do behind the scenes. We hold events throughout the year. Last year, I helped create a $500 scholarship through our club, which is awarded to a deserving student annually. During the busiest time of the year,  I spend anywhere from five to 10 hours a week volunteering with the club.

Q: Beyond Reach Higher, what other service work, extracurriculars or activities do you fill your time with at Perry and beyond? 

A: A typical day for me would be school first, and then I run varsity track in the afternoon for about two hours of practice. Then I come home and do homework. I am also in the National Honor Society (NHS), Spanish NHS and several other clubs, each with service hours requirements which I also meet. 

Extracurricular wise, I do a few things on the side to make some money and save it for college. I don’t have time for a regular job, so I have a sneaker business that I started freshman year where I buy and sell sneakers. I have also started day trading as well.

As a service highlight, my family is from Pakistan, and every few years we go back to visit family. Through Reach Higher, we did a fundraiser for orphans there. We raised donations and were able to buy food and clothes for the children. 

Q: Why are you dedicated to helping students prepare for the college admissions process?

A: I have an older brother who went to Hamilton High School. I remember when I was a little kid watching him go through the entire process and seeing how hard it can be for students and parents who need an extra hand to guide them through the admissions process. I have lots of friends and parents of friends who reach out and ask me about the process — what do I need to do, what classes do I need to take, what clubs do I need to join, etc. I saw around me that people were struggling to get ready for that next level. I thought having a club on campus to help with that process would be the perfect way to counteract all the uncertainty.


Q: What does being recognized for your volunteer service mean to you?

A: I would say it’s nice to know that I’m going in the right direction. It’s nice to be recognized for the work and to know that I’m doing the right thing and that it’s not going unnoticed. 


Q: What do you want to do when you graduate high school? 

A: As of now, I want to go into business after college. I am trying to get into a top business school. Specifically, what I would want to do in business, I am still undecided and just experimenting with different options. 


Reach Higher Club Perry High School

According to his nominator, Perry High School Counselor Toni Horn, Adeel has a visible passion for connecting with and supporting students through Reach Higher.

“He spends so much time creating, helping and working with college contacts to come visit PHS,” Horn said in her nomination. “He is present 100% at college events, guides volunteers and delegates and oversees most aspects of our events. For example: PHS College and Career Preview Night — it is a huge night and open to all PHS kids and parents. He makes sure to help the career center to make sure it runs smoothly. Thanks to Adeel, the Career Center can bring more opportunities to our students.”

Picture: Reach Higher Club Perry High School