ALBANY -- Thalia Tom had never been in the parade at the Solano Stroll. But she had worked the event awhile back.
Dressed as a monkey.
"It was very warm (in the costume) and I was happy to be on break," she said. "I just danced around and handed out coupons."
The gig was for Five Little Monkeys, the Solano Avenue toy store where Tom has worked for three years. But this year, she got to take on a more glamorous role. The Albany Chamber of Commerce named Tom its 2013 Youth of the Year. As a result, she got to ride in a car in the parade.
Tom, a senior at Albany High School, will be further honored at a dinner at the Solano Bar & Grill on Oct. 16. Also being honored that night will be Citizen of the Year Caryl O'Keefe.
Tom, who turns 17 this month, has put together quite a resume. She is co-editor of the school newspaper, the Albany Cougar. She is also the Associated Student Body president.
She started out in school leadership in eighth grade when she served as class vice president. Now, she helps facilitate school events such as assemblies, pep rallies, blood drives and school dances.
Tom has run for the cross country and track and field teams and played softball. An injury suffered in the latter sport caused her to give up cross country this year after three seasons, but she picked up lacrosse in the meantime.
Tom also served as co-president of the Earth Team, which promotes ecological awareness at the school. Last year, the team promoted a competition among students to see who could save the most energy by walking to school instead of driving.
And she has been active with the school's Christian Club.
She said her involvement in the community has very basic roots.
"I love how my teachers are and it has inspired me to devote some of my spare time to the community as well," she said.
Tom is the middle child of five siblings. That might have prepared her for community involvement as well.
"You're never alone," she said. "There's always someone to talk to or argue with."
Tom has lived in Albany all of her life. She said she suffered from asthma as a child and as a result is considering becoming a pediatrician.
"I was at the doctor's (office) a lot," she said. "I think being there and watching them try to alleviate suffering really inspired me."
She is also thinking adding English as a double-major with the possibility of journalism or other kinds of writing in her future. Her mother has self-published children's books. Her preferred school is UC Berkeley, "Because it's close and it's such a great school," she said, adding, "I have a couple of friends there."