Grace Jau: Avid Volunteer

Even in quarantine, Grace Jau still manages to stay involved in her volunteering activities.


Tan Ping Jau

Grace Jau volunteers at an arts-and-crafts program for young children.

Emma Montalbano and Claire Manuel

Grace Jau, a junior at Woodside High School, loves to volunteer and give back to her community in any way she can.

Jau did her first volunteering for her middle school, helping out at their school plays.

“At the plays or musical, we would sell candy grams for people to buy and have delivered to the actors and actresses,” Jau recalled. “I would help deliver those or run the stands… For another play, I helped paint the backdrops.”

In middle school, Jau was also a part of the Junior Optimist club, which is a branch of Optimist International. Optimist International is an international service club with 3,000 clubs and 80,000 members that span 20 countries. Woodside High School’s volunteering-oriented Octagon club, of which Jau is currently an officer, is also a part of Optimist International.

Jau started volunteering for Reading Partners in high school, which is an organization that helps provide students with tutors.

“I think I started volunteering in high school in the middle of 9th grade, doing Reading Partners that year second semester,” Jau stated. “I did [that] again the next year second semester, and I did a couple of other things during that time.”

Currently, Jau is keeping up with Octagon club through Zoom.

“The shelter in place has been very interesting… We have been continuing some Octagon meetings, so I have been attending those,” Jau said.

Jau also volunteers at the Magical Bridge Foundation’s location in Palo Alto through the Kindness Ambassadors program. The Magical Bridge Foundation is an organization that was created to build playgrounds for people of all abilities.

“I helped make a promotional video for the Facebook Magical Bridge concert that they’re having right now to promote kindness and share music during this difficult time,” explained Jau. “Magical Bridge Foundation Kindness Ambassadors are a subgroup of that. They’re a part of Magical Bridge that brings in volunteers to either help out at the events or stand around at the playgrounds and just watch the kids and help spread kindness and inclusivity.”

Jau is unsure about her plans for the future, but she has a strong passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and hopes to follow that path.

“The only thing I know is that I’m 99% sure that I am going to go into something in STEM,” Jau said. “Probably computer science or math, because I could see myself doing that in the future more than other things.”

Jau has loved math from a very young age, and she explains why math has always been one of her favorite subjects.

“I remember numbers were pretty much my favorite thing in preschool,” Jau recalls. “I like all subjects, but math was just easier than other subjects comparatively, so I just always loved it.”

Jau started participating in competitive math around the same time she started high school.

“Starting competitive math was a huge thing that helped me realize how much I love problem-solving,” Jau said.

Above all else, Jau is an avid volunteer who loves giving back to the community, and she offers some advice for people who want to start volunteering themselves.

“Look around the community, see what events are going on, and maybe reach out to friends or teachers to ask for opportunities to help out,” Jau said.