On May 10, University of Houston PAIR chapter president Cecilia Cai accepted the Mayor’s Volunteer Houston Award during a luncheon held at the Westin Oaks Hotel.
Cecilia was selected as one of only 14 people citywide to be honored for their exceptional volunteerism. Cecilia is passionate about helping her community, and she never waivers on the commitments she makes in the process. Not only is she a kind and effective mentor to at-risk youth, she is also an excellent leader of her fellow student volunteers.
Cecilia has overseen exponential growth of the UH chapter she founded and has coached new student officers to grow into their leadership roles. She uses keen insight and effective communication to quickly address issues and suggest improvements for programs as well as chapter leadership. She maintains high expectations of others, but is supportive, personable, motivational, and respected for her own unwavering commitment.
Cecilia has been volunteering with PAIR since 2009 and officially founded the UH PAIR Chapter in fall 2010. That semester, Cecilia organized PAIR’s annual College Orientation Day for high school students, simultaneously helping motivate PAIR students to pursue higher education and raising awareness of PAIR on the UH campus. Soon, Cecilia had enough members of UH PAIR to begin a pilot after-school program for refugee youth at a local middle school. Since the pilot program began in spring 2011, it has grown from 10 to 40 refugee students and from 10 to 40 volunteers. Finally, this spring, in her final semester of college, she helped PAIR expand yet again with a new high school program in the Gulfton neighborhood for graduates of the middle school program she began a year earlier.
This marks the second year in a row the Volunteer Houston selection committee has recognized volunteers nominated by PAIR. The Rice PAIR chapter’s outgoing president and vice president, Ann Chou and Teresa Yeh, were honored last year. When the time for nominations came this year, we never expected the judges would select a nominee from the same organization two years in a row, but felt Cecilia was most deserving of the award. We are so glad the judges agreed, and we are grateful for all of Cecilia’s accomplishments on behalf of PAIR.