They’re smart, hardworking, and generous with their time and talents. Lucky for us, they’re also our amazing volunteers. Today, we’re sharing the second in a series of profiles shining the spotlight on them. If you missed the first one on Ricki, catch it here.

Johnny is 17 and a senior at Emmaus High School. He was a maniac at moving thousands of books to help us get ready for construction of the new children’s wing, and now he’s focusing his mental abilities and dynamic personality on engaging young minds with his eight-week STEM series.

Where are you from?
I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Manhattan by my grandparents until fourth grade. This was while my parents were busy settling down in Pennsylvania and working long hours starting a restaurant.

What was that like, moving from Manhattan to PA at that age?
It definitely was a shift for me. For one, I lived in the Chinatown part of Manhattan, so the majority of my classmates were of Chinese descent, and when I moved here, I was the minority. I also didn’t realize that the majority of people here were into sports. In Manhattan, all of my classmates would talk about Pokemon and animé regularly, and I didn’t meet a single person into that here until I reached high school. I even ended up dropping most of my interests in Pokemon and animé along the way, probably due to being in a sports-oriented environment…although now my little brother, who is in fourth grade, uses my old Nintendo DS occasionally and plays Pokemon, so I think my interests are influencing him.

How long have you been volunteering at the library? What do you do?
I have been volunteering since November of 2017, so it’s been a year. I originally organized books and CDs that were out of place. I also helped out with moving books to clear space for construction of the new wing. However, I now have switched to creating different activities around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics.

Have libraries played any special role in your life?
I used to go to the library every week! My parents used to limit my video game usage to only Friday through Sunday, so whenever I finished my homework, I would usually pop open a book to read. Even though my parents don’t limit my video game usage anymore, I am usually swamped with school work now, which leaves little time for me to read. Now I bring my little brother to the library so he can stock up on books!

What inspired you to volunteer with us?
Originally, I was doing another volunteering club at school, but I stopped, as I realized the majority of the time was spent fundraising and not actually getting to have hands-on experience helping out people. I just wanted to do something that would make an impact while having fun, and also partly for college admissions. I am also in the National Honors society in school where we are planning on helping kids in elementary schools with specific topics.

Tell us about your background. When did you become interested in science and math?
My parents are originally from the South part of China in a province called Fujian. I have two younger brothers, one in tenth grade and one in fourth grade. I am able to speak and write Chinese, but I am better at speaking because I hardly ever have to write it.

I’ve always been interested in science and math, but never pursued it much until 8th grade when I started to program. Last year, I was lucky enough to participate in a Bucknell Teams Engineering contest with a team that took second place, which qualified us for the national Teams Engineering competition in Atlanta, Georgia. That was exciting. Unfortunately, I had to miss the nationals because I was on a trip to China at the time.

What are your hobbies or interests?
I enjoy learning about world history, creating apps, and running. I am on the Emmaus cross-country and track team, and I am also the vice president of our school’s chapter of the American Computer Science League.

What are your future plans?
I plan on getting a Computer Engineering degree and creating or joining a company that will innovate in a field related to computers that furthers progress in the world.

Do you like to read? Do you have a favorite book, author or genre?
I do like to read but don’t spend as much time doing it as I used to. My favorite series through elementary and middle school was with Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse by George Selden, and I would reread the books over and over again.

Lightning round! Favorite movie:

Last book you read:
The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

Place you most want to visit:
Do you have a special interest or talent that you’d like to share with others? Would you like to lend your energy to the library in other ways? Stop in and ask for a Volunteer Interest form at the desk!

[Disclaimer: the views, information or opinions expressed in ‘Meet Our Volunteers’ interviews are solely those of the volunteers and do not necessarily represent those of the library or its employees.]