Senior Gunleen Deol has had a plethora of accomplishments in her high school career. From publishing two novels to winning the prestigious Hall of Fame award, Deol has continued to express her passion for writing and has constantly exercised her talent in helping others.
At the age of 11, Deol self-published a short children’s book called Sleepover Disaster. Her love for writing began from a early age, when she had multiple journals full of short stories and poems. This fiction book was originally a short story from one of her journals, but inspired by her mom who had published a research novel as part of her Ph.D.. She decided to continue the story, hoping to eventually publish it as a fun project. Sleepover Disaster is still available for purchase on websites such as Barnes and Nobles and Amazon.
At the age of 13, she self-published her second novel: Five Days in Chestmount, a realistic-fiction novel that about eight college friends who embark on a journey of self-discovery at the start of their summer. It later transforms into a mystery when one of their friends goes missing. To showcase these novels, Deol created her own website http://www.gunleen.com. In addition to writing novels, she also has a knack for creating poems. “I love the brevity yet emotional power of poetry,” Deol said.
She has entered poems in various writing contests and made it into their final published compilation of works.
In addition to writing, Deol is passionate about helping others. In middle school, she became deeply involved with the NGO Oxfam and created the Oxfam Club, where she learned about worldwide poverty levels. In high school, her awareness expanded beyond the poverty crisis and she began to see that the root of all worldly problems lies in a lack of spiritual oneness. “I found that spirituality goes beyond religion and separation and encompasses all of humanity and is based on a simple principle: love.”
This spurred her to create the club “Alive” because she felt like teenagers, who tend to go through a challenging stage of development, needed to hear these ideas more than anyone else. The original aim was to have open discussions on sources of anxiety, fear and depression and talk about how simply changing your perspective on these things can shift the whole situation. The central concept was “Thought Alchemy”—the process of changing negatives into positives. However, she soon learned that teenagers weren’t particularly interested in these things, even though they probably needed it more than anyone else. She was then invited into the Wellness Committee here, which designs monthly activities for students and teachers to promote physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. “Through this committee, I was able to reach out to more students through activities like the distribution of ‘Wellness Cards,’ the Vision Board Workshop, the stress surveys, and the ‘Thought of the Day’ on the morning announcements,” Deol said.
This year, Deol modified her club by changing the name to “ELEVATE.” “We work with The Wellness Committee, Sources of Strength and UMTTR to create a more uplifting environment at our school,” Deol said.
Recently, her club created the “Ask Counselors” mailboxes and posted the Youth Crisis hotline posters around the school. Elevate also volunteers with a multitude of organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association, Manna Food Center, The Village at Rockville, the Housing Opportunities Commission, Habitat for Humanity and The Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation. “I really enjoy coming together as a group to do good things for the community. It’s incredible how just taking an hour out of your day can bring smiles on the faces of the elderly, low-income children and even animals,” Deol said.
Deol is also a recipient of the Hall of Fame award, which is yearly awarded to one deserving junior. “I was incredibly honored to receive this award last spring. However, this award isn’t about me. For me, this award is an opportunity to receive a larger audience who will be receptive to the message that I have to bring. And that message is simple: Realize your power within and act from love,” Deol said.
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