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Sophia Alexandrou Awarded the New York State Senate’s Youth Leadership Recognition Award

By Eva Mandelbaum

Sophia Alexandrou, The Orange’s very own Editor-in-Chief, was awarded the New York State Senate’s Youth Leadership Recognition Award. This is an extremely prestigious accomplishment; it signifies that Sophia is not only a successful student academically, but she has shown exceptional leadership through her extracurricular activities and community service work. According to the New York State Senate’s website, “The New York State Senate’s Youth Leadership Recognition Award program honors outstanding students who will become our future leaders.”

As an already excellent leader in her school and local community, there is no doubt that Sophia is the epitome of an outstanding future leader. In addition to her work for The Orange, she participates in clubs including Students for Change and Advocates for the Earth and is a member of the varsity volleyball team. Sophia is also a member of the New Voices New York Campaign, which works to create legislative change throughout the state to provide student journalists with greater first amendment rights.

Additionally, she is a member of the Executive Council of Westchester Green County USA, which according to Sophia, is a youth-led climate organization made up of students from across Westchester. “Through this group, I was able to lead the initiative to make WPHS carbon neutral for the 2021-22 school year,” she explained.

Because Sophia pours her heart into the causes that she is passionate about, she was selected by New York State Senator Shelley Mayer to receive this award. As an incredibly hardworking student leader, Sophia sets an example for her peers. She cares deeply about the causes she works for, which is what makes her hard work rewarding. “The greatest change comes from the greatest passion. Not only has it been really fun contributing to these movements, but because I feel so strongly about them, I have been able to see change happen.”

When asked about what inspires her, Sophia shared that her godmother is her biggest inspiration. “She somehow finds enough hours in the day to excel immensely in her professional life, while maintaining really strong bonds with those close to her,” she said. “She is both incredibly generous and ambitious, which are two traits I always try to use when working towards initiatives that I believe in.”

Sophia is a firm believer in generosity and ambition, but her core values do not stop there. “I believe a good leader is a strong listener. The leader of any group or movement should always listen to other people’s ideas and feedback,” she declared. “It can be tempting to assume all power or feel like you should have all the answers when put into a position that has great influence, but an effective leader is one who embraces collaboration.”

As words of advice to peers, Sophia emphasized that it is good to push yourself into new and sometimes difficult situations. “Especially over the past year, I have been put in several situations where I was given great responsibility and where a lot of trust was put into my abilities. If at any point, you are put into these situations and feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, that’s okay because neither did I,” Sophia admitted. “I, of course, prepared as much as I could have, but this was all so new to me. I trusted my instincts and my preparation, and everything worked out. If you are put into a leadership position, you deserve it and are capable of doing a good job, even if you don’t believe it.”

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