MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township High School student Thilaka Arunachalam of Towaco has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship by Monk’s Home Improvement company due to her achievements in service.

The senior traveled to the Philippines, where she delivered more than 600 dental kits to four rural elementary schools and gave demonstrations about hygiene.

“I’ve always wanted to volunteer abroad, and I found that some countries in southeast Asia lacked medical care,” Arunachalam told TAP into Montville. “I found the Marian Rose Foundation and the Life is Good Global Foundation, which provide medical services to women and children around the world.”

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Prior to her trip, Arunachalam contacted organizations around New Jersey to collect dental hygiene items, and with the aid of St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston and some local Towaco organizations, she was able to assemble more than 600 kits. She put together a presentation about tooth brushing, dietary choices and healthy washing habits.

“We wanted to make a lasting impact -- something they could teach to others,” she said.

With the help of the Marian Rose Foundation, she traveled to the rural outskirts of Iloilo District in January of this year, where she joined an interdisciplinary team of LIG physicians and nurses who performed screenings and procedures, and trained midwives.

 “There were doctors and nurses who traveled with the program,” she said. “There were also engineers, college students, and medical students, but I was the only high school student.”

Arunachalam will be embarking on the accelerated, combined B.S./M.D. program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute after she graduates from MTHS.

“It was scorching hot,” she said of the ten-day trip. “Some of the kids had no shoes. Some of the kids knew English. They told me they walked two miles to attend school. Our group also gave them shoes and friendship bracelets.”

Overall, there were five Monk’s Home Improvement company scholarship awardees. The awards were given at a ceremony in May.

“We received nearly 200 applications from students in 37 different high schools and universities,” Monk’s Home Improvement owner Ty Monk said. “The essays describing the service work were inspirational. We thank them for all that they do for their communities!”

Arunachalam also volunteers at the Parsippany Volunteer Ambulance Squad, at her temple, and is a Senior Girl Scout Ambassador. She is also president of the MTHS National Honor Society.

“My medical mission trip was a rewarding experience. I'd like to thank Monk’s Home Improvement for recognizing my achievements and financially contributing towards my educational and professional goals,” she said.