When Eswar Dommaraju isn't earning straight A's or participating in community activities with the youth group he helped create, he is most likely:
Volunteering at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow;
Practicing the Indian tabla percussion instrument;
Participating in clubs and sports.
Dommaraju, 17, moved to Hicksville from Queens when he was in sixth grade. In 10th grade he and a group of friends decided to pitch the idea of a youth group to the Telugu Literary and Cultural Association, an organization his family had joined.
"We all had naturally helping natures," said Dommaraju, who wanted to encourage teens to be more active in their communities outside scheduled Cultural Association events. He was nervous but confident when they successfully requested permission from the executive committee to start the group, which quickly grew to include about 40 people, mostly children of association members.
Their first contribution was helping the association host a health clinic that provided free checkups for the public. The group took patients' vital signs, organized paperwork, escorted them to various stations and offered juice and cookies.
After superstorm Sandy hit Long Island in October 2012, the youth group raised $1,500 in donations for the Red Cross, which the Cultural Association's executive committee then matched.
Dommaraju is heavily involved in extracurricular activities, and his favorite is playing on the varsity tennis team. He ranks 31 in his class of 377, according to his guidance counselor, Jessica Molof.
"Eswar has demonstrated a unique ability to inspire and lead groups of students in meaningful community service activities," she said. "He's at the heart of what makes Hicksville High School a great school."
Dommaraju will attend Baruch College and hopes to major in economics.
"I'm looking forward to being more independent."
WHAT MAKES YOU EXTRAORDINARY
My mindset of always wanting to help others. Most of the time I put helping my friends in front of what I do [for me] because it brings me joy and a sense of happiness that doesn't come from doing things for myself."