SARTELL - Sartell-St. Stephen high school senior Nicole Yang has recently been recognized by the St. Cloud Optimist Club with a youth appreciation award for making a difference in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.

Yang was recognized for helping to recruit her peers to serve as mentors in the program.

Sartell-St. Stephen Senior Nicole Yang. (Dan DeBaun, WJON)

"It's really rewarding because you're bonding with this kid who looks up to you as a mentor and it's kind of scary because you wonder if you mess up or say the wrong thing if that's going to be bad, but then you get used to it like 'hey-this is neat'."

She also qualified as an All-Star Student for being involved in everything from model United Nations, speech team, school plays, target club and mock trial (where she’s been captain for two years).

"We create a team and we get a case and this year it was a kidnapping scenario. We have people assigned to be witnesses or lawyers, create our case and compete against other schools."

Yang has also actively traveled to practice one of her favorite subjects: Spanish. She’s taken trips to Guatemala and Costa Rica and says both experiences sharpened her language skills.

" I went to Guatemala first and that was kind of an eye opener, I couldn't communicate very well at first but then I got used to their own dialect, slang and way of talking."

She says being so involved in and out of school in programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters has given her loads of confidence and life experience.

"It feels really good and when you're leaving you leave with a smile and think to yourself that it was really something cool."