HOUSTON (February 26, 2007)

An energetic high school senior and aspiring pediatrician has been named 2007 Volunteer of the Year at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Spurred on by her desire to be a pediatrician, 17-year-old Seema Gandhi joined Health Occupations Students of America - an extracurricular program at her high school - last year. She spent the first year learning health care basics in a classroom setting and now, in her second year, Seema is excited about applying what she's learned to a real-life setting. She joined the volunteer program at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and, after a series of rotations through the hospital, she began volunteering in the playrooms every Saturday at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.

"I really wanted to experience working with children and getting to know who they are, their likes, dislikes, how they react to certain situations and what makes them feel comfortable," Gandhi said.

"Seema is the first high school student we have ever selected as Volunteer of the Year," said Marsha Weiss, Memorial Hermann--TMC director of volunteer services. "She's a terrific example of a quality young person."

The Child Life specialists who work with Seema say that not only is she caring and responsible but she's a "fun person all around."

"Seema is always happy when she's here," said Laura Rosenhagen, child life specialist at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. "She'll do anything that we ask of her without hesitation. She shows tremendous initiative, dedication and an eagerness to learn."

"She takes the time to get to know the patient's and families," said Lastacie Holcomb, child life assistant at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. "She goes room to room to meet the families, leads activities in the playroom and plays video games at the patient's bedside, just to keep them company. She will make a good pediatrician."

Gandhi says that this experience has solidified her choice to become a pediatrician.

"I like the environment and working with the whole family," she said. "I want to help kids feel comfortable and safe while they're in the hospital."

Urging other teenagers to volunteer, Gandhi said, "It's a great experience, it looks good on your resume and provides you with a new perspective."

After graduating in May from Cypress Creek High School, Gandhi will attend the University of Houston, where she will major in biology or biomedical sciences.