Chandler teen gets 'Time' nod for leadership
Arizona Republic
May 5, 2008



Ray Parker
The Arizona Republic

Corona del Sol High School student Grace Do was featured in Time magazine last week after being selected as one of the top 25 outstanding juniors in the nation.

Massachusetts' Bentley College launched the Tomorrow 25 competition in 2005, saluting the next generation of leaders.

An Arizona native, the 17-year-old Chandler teen has started an English mentoring program called KidTalk to help immigrant students.

"I was chosen to be one of the Tomorrow 25 leaders mainly because of my involvement in the community," Do said. "When I was a freshman, I worked with my older sister, Elizabeth Do, to found KidTalk, a local library program at the Chandler Sunset Library aimed at tutoring primarily immigrant students from ages 4 to high school."

Her interest in helping others started as a seventh-grader, when Do started helping Chinese immigrants learn English at her church.

Do said that the national high-school-dropout rate is about 30 percent.

"Of these numbers, 29 percent of them consist of foreign-born students," Do said. "These numbers are dangerously high, and I believe that immigrant-tutoring programs such as KidTalk can definitely help lower these dropout rates."

Throughout the years, Do said, she has had friends who were immigrants and who had difficulties with English, especially since some English-as-a-second-language programs don't cater to certain groups.

"ESL programs at school are not very helpful either, especially since the teacher does not necessarily speak their language," she said. "I believe that interactive, one-on-one tutoring programs such as KidTalk are the most effective solutions to immigrants' struggle with English and the new environment. Also, we have a wide range of tutors who can speak a variety of languages such as Chinese, Korean, Hindi, Spanish and more."

In March, Do attended the Bentley Leadership Forum, where she met the other 24 most-promising juniors, and heard from Patty Stonesifer, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who talked about corporate social responsibility and companies' obligation to meet the needs of the poor and other societal concerns.

Do said she has been thinking about biomedical research. And then there's her pet project.

"I am planning to expand KidTalk and establish the program in more libraries around the Valley to reach more immigrants," she said.