LOS ANGELES - For 17-year-old Somkene Okwuego, nothing makes her happier than volunteering and mentoring elementary school students.
"I feel honored when I mentor children," said Okwuego. "I don't really see it necessarily as me helping them. I feel like it's more of a bond."
As a Junior Counselor at USC's Troy Camp this year, Okwuego worked with 200 third through fifth graders, helping them to build self-confidence and pursue their dreams.
"I definitely think it's important for kids to learn at an early age that it's OK to be who you are and to express it," she said.
Okwuego is also the student body president at LAUSD & USC's Media Arts and Engineering Magnet School.
Outside of school, she has spent countless hours volunteering at the 24th Street Theater and working on documentary films that promote opportunities for girls through Girls Build LA, along with volunteering at hospitals and the Los Angeles Public Library.
Counselors who have mentored Okwuego say she has a special gift of connecting with students, especially those who sometimes feel left out of group activities.
"She would just be so nice and genuine with the students," said mentor Kenia Gomez, "They would always want to be around her."
Now, Okwuego is excited about graduating high school and pursuing her dream of becoming a heart surgeon.
"Just giving people a second chance at life is what I want to do," she said. "And heart surgery is just my way."