Get to know our 33rd class of Coca-Cola Scholars - 150 incredible young people who are creating positive change in their communities and around the world.
Each Scholar is being awarded a $20,000 college scholarship and joins an alumni family of over 6,450 visionary leaders who are refreshing the world together.
meet our 2021 coca-cola scholars
Beach Park, IL
Eric Acevedo empowers immigrant families to become full participants in their community by volunteering with Mano A Mano, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for immigrants in Lake County, IL. While educating his community about the importance of the census and voting, he created and administered a survey throughout his county to determine the obstacles preventing residents from completing the census. Moreover, he strives to address food insecurity by volunteering at food banks and pantries while also serving as a Spanish interpreter. Eric will study neuro-oncology, use Spanish to break language barriers, remedy health disparities in medicine, and serve as an advocate for underrepresented minorities pursuing medical careers.
As captain of her school's science fair team and founder of The Nereid Project, Laalitya Acharya is raising awareness for the water crisis through research and education. Inspired by family trips to India, she developed a device to detect microbial contamination in water through the analyzation of microscopic images, and is currently implementing this device for real-world testing. She also hosts STEM education camps and "Water Summits'' to get her community involved in science. She competes at the national level in speech and debate, raised nearly $20,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and works at a local violin store. In college, she will major in bioengineering and hopes to continue to use science to improve the world.
Edward Adams is the Founder and President of Educational Action for Native Americans, a nonprofit seeking to improve the quality of secondary schooling on reservations. Driven, in part, by his drive to explore his Native heritage, he founded the first Native American studies club at his school and authored and published an independent research paper on how Thomas Jefferson altered U.S. laws to deprive Native Americans of their property. Edward is also an innovator and has created patents for an algorithm that improves the veracity of college applications and a system for a more efficient method of calculating carbon offsets. He currently plans to attend Stanford University.
Fareed Ahamad is the founder of Superior Minds, a nonprofit virtual tutoring program devoted to assisting students statewide who struggle academically during COVID. An avid researcher, he ventured to Bangalore, India, for a collegiate internship to analyze water quality in lakes and mitigation methods through hydrology and legislative reforms. Having played chess since age 7, Fareed employs his passion and skill as a state competitor, president of the school chess club, and a coach. He intends to major in neurobiology to become a neurosurgeon, a career goal he discovered while volunteering at local hospitals and aiding in surgeons' clinics. In his free time, Fareed enjoys pogo-sticking, writing in his quotebook, and exploring with friends.
As a Nigerian immigrant, feminist, and advocate, Faith Ajanaku has dedicated her time to cultivating a better future for minorities. As the founder of Modern Divergence, Faith oversees 210 members from 21 different countries and has raised neurodiversity awareness to 17.6k+ individuals. From advocating for body positivity to designing medical delivery robots, Faith has been honored nationally in hackathons, branding, and programming competitions. In her free time, Faith enjoys anime, podcasting, and foreign music. She is earning her EMT and CMA certifications to continue her patient services work in medical environments. As technology further integrates into healthcare, Faith will continue advocating for intersectionality and equality.
Colts Neck Township, NJ
Bhavana Akula is a senior in the NJ Law and Public Service Magnet Program, where she currently serves as president of the National Honors Society, Junior State of America, and District Asian Club. She believes that solving big problems requires a nuanced understanding of the problem and a coalition of experts drawn from diverse disciplines. She finds the process of engaging like minded people and nudging not-so-like minded people towards a common goal to be the most exciting way to effect change, whether leading teams to identify risk factors for human trafficking or mapping ethnocentric radicalization social contagions. Currently, she is planning to study an amalgamation of statistics, sociology, machine learning, and public policy.
Yakeleen Almazan is a proud Latina leader, social activist, pioneer, and community organizer. From South Tucson, Arizona, she is deeply connected to her roots as she allows her community to lead her into a life of service. As the founder of Votantes para el Cambio Social, co-founder of the National Organization for Youth Activism, field captain for Fight4HER, president of MeCha, and an advisor for Congressman Raul Grijalva, she successfully organizes communally to uplift marginalized communities while advocating for the rights of Hispanics in the United States. She will continue her education at Yale University where she will learn mechanisms for social advocacy in hopes of being a congresswoman for the 3rd congressional district in AZ.
As chapter president and regional executive officer of Top Teens of America, NHS Vice President, Beaumont Branch NAACP Youth Council Secretary, and a caregiver, Jerron-Michael has possessed the agency to effect change through leadership and service. Following multiple disasters in his region, Jerron-Michael was instrumental in restoration and donation delivery efforts. A Carson Scholar and 2020 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad competitor, he has organized a mental health workshop, regularly participates in voter registration and 2020 Census drives, and helps arrange backpacks for annual Back to School supply drives. A public health and disability advocate, he plans to study neuroscience and public policy and become a rehabilitation physician.
Gellila Asmamaw is an Ethiopian-American passionate about service within her church community, languages, and medicine. She serves as a Sunday School teacher at her local parish and on the Head Committee for her state's branch of UOTY, a nationwide nonprofit delivering the teachings of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church in English. Most notably, she works to bridge language barriers as an Ethiopian Sign Language Interpreter. A recipient of the U.S. State Department NSLI-Y Scholarship, Gellila virtually studied Arabic, her fifth language, at the Qalam wa Lawh Center in Morocco. She is still deciding where to attend university, but plans to major in Middle East Studies, Comparative Literature, or Global Health.
Yarency Lizbeth Avelar
Immersing herself in community service since the age of 7, Yarency's drive to elevate others is shown through her involvement in her community. Serving as an Oakland Youth Commissioner, she uplifts policies that impact youth. As CEO of her initiative Trash to Treasure, she and her team created 400+ art pieces out of upcycled materials from the streets of Oakland. As class president, she teaches students about applying to college and founded the Student Community Service Ambassadors initiative to inspire empathy and empower 500+ students to give back to their community. As a STEM Advocate, she visits local libraries and schools to host workshops regarding STEM for underrepresented minorities in hopes of inspiring them to pursue STEM.
As an ally for the marginalized, Karson strives to affirm dignity and create change. He founded Oné Respé, a relational partnership between immigrant and refugee teens and American-born peers, to achieve mutual integration through language acquisition and friendship. As a HOPE worldwide National Youth Advisory Council member, he developed a greeting card micro-business to empower orphaned teens in Mexico with marketable skills. As President of Project RACE Teens, he launched Multiracial Heritage Week, with proclamations from Governors of 17 states. Karson was awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, Yale Basset Award and Semper Fidelis All-American of the Year and named the student that best embodies his school's motto: Responsibility, Loyalty, Consideration.
Jesus Ballesteros' optimism and passion for educational equity are displayed through mentoring other first-generation and low-income students and creating free, online college guidance content. In high school, Jesus founded a mentorship program, broke school records for recruiting incoming freshmen, and leveraged his graphic design experience to promote cohesion through marketing and social media. Since Jesus has worked since 8th grade, he understands the benefit of adversity and hopes to inspire others. As a first-generation student and American, Jesus is beyond grateful to have received admission to Stanford, Vanderbilt, and Emory University. Despite his choice, Jesus plans to pursue law with a focus on immigration reform.
Sarah Belcher has helped combat the opioid crisis in her region using the power of technology and organized efforts. Coined the Empty Chair Project, the initiative consisted of an app/website to help those suffering from addiction find resources, a mentor program to prevent drug use, and the founding of a UNITE Club. The project won the Don Myers Humanitarian Award in Washington, DC and was recognized by Congressman Hal Rogers. Sarah is thankful to serve her community as a Student Senator for the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and co-president of her school's Pike County Youth Leadership Council Chapter. She is also a published poet. Because of Kentucky's high cancer rates, she hopes to work in oncology and major in bioengineering.
Alex Benoit is a Franco-American full-time dual enrolled at the University of Georgia. He is the Founder of OCHS Miracle Club, an organization that has raised over $30,000 for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Advocacy Lead of UGA Partner's in Health. Most recently, he co-founded The Finch Media Group, a student-led nonprofit with thousands of readers and listeners across 75 states and countries which has interviewed Nobel laureates. An alumnus of the Georgia Governor's Honors Program and the MIT Research Science Institute, Alex has studied infectious diseases at CalTech, Berkeley, and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Next year, he will attend Harvard University and study human evolutionary biology and microbial sciences.
Las Vegas, NV
Joanna Bieda is a youth attorney and youth legislator, representing ~42,000 youth in Nevada. Her experiences defending teens in the justice system inspired her to draft and promote criminal justice reform for the state legislature. Joanna's background in research and policy led her to found Mission for American Resolve, a nationally-staffed, student-run think tank. Joanna is also the Nevada Chair of High School Democrats of America, former Chair of the Nevada Youth Legislature, and leader of several of her school's advocacy and business clubs. An immigrant and first-generation college student, Joanna will be a student in the Huntsman Program at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving dual degrees in Economics and International Studies.
Stun grenades thrown at her feet, federal agents shoving her into a stone wall, and armed alt-right men surrounding her have not stopped Eddy Binford-Ross from pursuing an award-winning journalism career. Her work covering civil rights protests, Oregon's violent alt-right, and Portland's federal occupation has been spotlighted by the Washington Post, Vice News, MSNBC, and more. Eddy was part of a court case to stop federal agents from assaulting members of the media. She is also passionate about climate change and gave a TEDx talk on the importance of civics education. In her free time, she rides horses, spends time outdoors, and reads. She will be attending Georgetown and plans to major in International Politics and minor in Journalism.
Johns Creek, GA
Aditya Bora is an inventor who is working to create innovative solutions in the robotics and biomedical space. In high school, he has developed numerous assistive technologies such as a pair of self-tying shoes for people suffering with neuromotor disabilities and a robotic therapy device for a student with cerebral palsy to learn to control a motorized wheelchair. Aditya is also an International Chief Science Officer Delegate who has advocated for the inclusion of student voices in the development of STEM policy at the White House and Congress. Outside of school, Aditya enjoys playing tennis and guitar. He plans to attend Stanford University in the fall, majoring in Computer Science and AI, and apply these skills to continue solving complex problems.
Caitlin's passions have always been social justice and the arts. She helped start an after school program for Guatemalan immigrants in her community, getting students excited about violin, theatre, and art. She read a poem she wrote about Indigenous sovereignty and Environmental Justice at her Community's Climate Rally. Amidst the pandemic, she helped lead an emergency relief drive as President of Project LEAD, raising 5,000 dollars. Through interning at Cincinnati's Federal Public Defender's Office and lived experience, her passions turned into her path, inspiring her to begin writing a fantasy novel centering around prison abolition. She plans to pursue this in college, majoring in Creative Writing on a pre-law track.
Kya Brooks is the author of Tales from Abroad, a multilingual fiction novel about teenagers living abroad that is currently being published. Growing up a military kid inspired her to write diverse stories. As the Nebraska DECA State Secretary, Kya oversees 28 chapters and advocated for funding before the state senate. Kya is a signed model and walked in 12 seasons of Omaha Fashion Week, the 4th largest fashion event in America. She was twice on the cover of Omaha Fashion Magazine and mentored for 6 years at Omaha Fashion Camp. Kya is passionate about increasing linguistic diversity and founded KIB Tutoring, a Spanish tutoring business with a pro-bono branch. Kya will likely pursue an Economics major and Spanish minor at Harvard University.
Elia Brooks-Sims is the co-founder of the Young Activist Coalition, a club that advocates for anti-racist policies and works to normalize conversations surrounding race and identity within her school district. In 2019, she led the organization of the first Black History Month Performance at her high school in three years, sparking the beginning of a culturally-celebratory school climate. In her hometown of Chicago, they create murals with the Greenstar Bricolage program, giving urban communities a renewed sense of pride in their history. In the future, she plans to major in public health and sociology to fight against health disparities for marginalized communities, while using art and education to create social change.
Pedro Calderón is the co-founder of Project Islas Unidas which has impacted the lives of English Language Learner students who have agricultural backgrounds. He is the League of United Latin American Citizens California State Youth Treasurer that oversees the youth council's finances across the state and helps plan state youth conventions where over 100 youth attend. He has been awarded the National Washington Youth Seminar award where only fifty students across the country receive it. As an engineering and automotive enthusiast, he will be majoring in mechanical engineering where he hopes to inspire other Latinos to pursue a competitive field. In his free time, he loves giving back to his community, playing sports, and working on cars.
San Gabriel, CA
Arlene Campa is a textile artist, poet, and community organizer who is interested in exploring and manifesting communities that are centered in joy, justice, and empathy. A fierce advocate for arts education equity, Arlene is the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California's inaugural Arts Justice Fellow and Create California's Student Ambassador where she works to ensure that all K-12 students across California are receiving an equitable and complete arts education. Arlene is also the founder of The Art Hour, a student-led, student-run nonprofit on a mission to alleviate art inequities in schools by providing free, virtual, one-hour art lessons to K-12 students. Arlene begins her first year at University of Chicago in fall 2021.
Alarmed by the paucity of technological resources in her grandfather's hometown, Molly Cantillon founded Techshare, a global student-led nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering low-income youth in technology. With partnerships alongside the Boys & Girls Clubs and Peace Corps, Techshare has held monthly workshops in robotics, circuitry, and coding, and donated $3,000 worth of computers to date. Passionate about providing equitable access to technology multifariously, Molly co-founded GirlTechBoss, an initiative inspiring the next generation of female engineers and entrepreneurs. She hosted EntrepreneuHER, the largest all-female makeathon with 1,050 girls globally and plans to study electrical engineering at Stanford next fall.
Danna Chacon is a passionate soul about serving constituents and writing legislation that is equal for all. She has served as the Student Body President at Lake Nona High School and has also served as the SGA President of a college campus at 16. Danna is also an active member of Rotary International and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She has interned for her state representative's office and various Florida campaigns. In college, Danna will be studying International Relations and Economics to pursue her love for policy and global perspectives. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, learning a new language, and reading historical figures' autobiographies. After attending college, Danna hopes to practice law and run for office!
Haleigh Chapin's passion is community service and helping others. She is currently a QuarterMaster Sea Scout and has been named to the first Inaugural Class of female Eagle Scouts of 2020. She currently holds the Bronze, Silver and most recently U.S. Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, 5th District, and has also earned the Bronze, Silver and Gold U.S. Volunteer Service Award. Haleigh is the President of the National Honor Society and Vice-President of the Student Council. Sports has played a significant role in her high school career, having lettered in volleyball, basketball, cross country and track all 4 years since freshman year. She is a District and Area Track Champion as well as a Regional Qualifier for both cross country and track.
San Francisco, CA
Jason Chen is an ardent advocate, serving as the Governmental Affairs Policy Director for the California Association of Student Councils (CASC). He wrote and built robust coalitions around numerous bills currently being considered by California, including the Youth Empowerment Act and the Menstrual Equity for All Act. He revitalized funding streams in the state budget for CASC in 2019 and is currently championing an additional $6.3 million budget request for civic learning programs. He interned for Senator Scott Wiener and worked on presidential campaigns for Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg. He is an avid surfer, electric guitarist, and varsity rower. He will attend Stanford University, double majoring in Public Policy and Management Science and Engineering.
Basking Ridge, NJ
Lily Chen is the founder of REVAnalytics, an initiative that builds data solutions for accessible healthcare. She has built an iOS app MyMedicationReminder, a Diabetic Retinopathy diagnosis app, a ML-based mental health therapy buddy, and a COVID-19 tracker for NJ. Lily also leads the REVAnalytics mask drive, free workshop, and coding camp initiatives. She is a two-time AIME qualifier, three time hackathon winner, international medical conference presenter, NJRSF and NJAS winner, and an Apple WWDC Scholar. As the founder of Ridge Girls Who Code and the TechTogether Director of Hacker Experience, she is passionate about empowering women in STEM. In her free time, she enjoys following the NBA, analyzing horror movies, and traveling.
Megan Chen is the Founder and Executive Director at The Urban Garden Initiative (TUGI), an international nonprofit that aims to inspire and empower youth to achieve urban sustainability through a gardening-based program. With over 60 chapters globally and hundreds of volunteers, Megan has designed projects to tackle food insecurity and impacted over 10,000 students. Megan is also the author of the children's book, Finding Tiger, which aims to teach young students about the problems of implicit bias and stereotyping. In addition, Megan is a TEDx Speaker, HERLead 2020 Fellow, and President's Volunteer Service Gold Award Recipient. Currently, she is looking to pursue a degree that is at the intersection of urban studies, public policy, and social entrepreneurship.
Farmington Hills, MI
Maria Cheriyan is a student researcher and advocate dedicated to serving her global community. As former National Head Chapter Lead of AI4ALL, an organization championing accessible AI education and algorithmic justice, she served an alumni community of 750+ students. Recognized in 2020 as a NCWIT Aspirations in Computing National Awardee, she developed physical therapy technology "Breathe" in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Locally, she's 2nd runner-up of the Miss Farmington Cities community service program and president of Michigan Junior Classical League, as well as Editor-in-Chief of school publications Eureka and Spectrum and president of the computational biology club. In her free time, she enjoys singing and writing creatively.
Eunice combats gender, racial, and educational inequity. In addition to freelance journalism, she serves as Femme for Education's International Director, International STEM and Education Society's Magazine Director, Politique Magazine's editor, and writes for Asian Youth for Civic Engagement. She is an instructor at Mathnasium, an AP Calculus tutor, and a marketing student assistant at the Center for Career and Leadership Development at Middle Georgia State, where she is receiving an Associate's Degree. She leads the International Students and Studies Association and Honors Student Association at MGA and the Model U.N. chapter, Student Council, and newspaper at her high school. She will be attending Harvard University and plans to study sociology, religion, or government.
Caroline Curran promotes inclusion and global citizenship in her community. As an advocate for civic-engagement, Caroline organizes youth volunteer initiatives and mentors female students in the sciences. In addition, she enjoys encouraging cross cultural understanding through language acquisition. As the founder of her school's Spanish club, she organized fundraisers for causes including the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. Caroline is excited to continue exploring the intersection between technology and language in college after graduating with an International Baccalaureate Diploma. In her free time, Caroline is an avid writer and photographer. She is eager to share her talents and learn from others in the Coca-Cola Scholars community.
Anna Dean founded LOUDwomen, INC., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to empowering young women by targeting education inequity and unequal representation. LOUDwomen has reached over 2,500 girls in Arkansas. She is the Co-Founder of the Youth Debate Forum, which offers debate initiatives to middle school students. As the chair of Senator John Boozman's Youth Cabinet, Anna developed legislation to combat gun violence in Public Schools. She was a 2021 US Senate Youth Program delegate, where she attended meetings with the president, senators, a justice of the Supreme Court, cabinet members, and federal agency leaders. In college, Anna plans to study Government and Gender Studies. She enjoys debating and writing for the LOUDwomen blog.
Chloe Decker has made her mark in her rural community. Serving as student body president, journalism editor, founder of the Bulldog Boutique clothing closet, and her church's OCC chairman, Chloe's put an emphasis on balancing out income-based inequalities. Selected as a NC Governor's School attendee and the first ever ALA Girls State representative from her county, Chloe's been named a College Board Rural Recognition recipient and her region's DAR Good Citizen. Chloe is graduating high school with her Associates of Arts degree and plans to study public policy as a BN Memorial Scholar at Duke University, with a focus in pre-law. In her free time, Chloe enjoys reading, captaining her soccer team, and scooping ice cream at the Sweet Tooth.
Lidya Demilew found her passion for STEM through her work with the STEM Impressionists Program starting in 8th grade. With the mission to support girls, she honed her STEM skills in the program and turned her classes into hands-on community service projects. She judged robotics competitions, worked as a project manager for several STEM projects for underrepresented students; became recognized as a state winner by NCWIT, and developed STEM curriculum and educator skills as she taught STEM to teachers and students alike at events like JOSTI, GMU's FOCUS camp and present at national conferences like ITEEA. Next year, Lidya will be attending Yale University to study computer science and continue her work shaping the role of women of color in technology.
Shanay Desai is passionate about disability rights, clinical research, and healthcare entrepreneurship. At fifteen-years-old, he earned a national 3D-modeling certification & fabricated a $145 prosthetic arm with proprietary electrode technology. Moreover, he created 4,400+ jobs for unemployed MS residents through a partnership with the MS Department of Rehabilitation Services. He also authored "A Beginner's Guide to Scientific Research," interned alongside Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and is a 2021 International Science Fair Finalist. As a future physician and disability rights activist, Shanay plans on majoring in neuroscience and special education. He spends his free time playing varsity tennis & eating Sonic mozzarella sticks!
Vivian Dietrich is the Founder of the Kiowa Tribe Garden Initiative in partnership with her local Native American tribal nation. Seeing the need within her community, Vivian taught self-sustainability practices to children and delivered produce to families from the garden amidst the pandemic. Vivian has played football during her years in high school as well as creating the Women's Powerlifting program in her school. She was subsequently state champion the same year in her division. While in school she has participated in Native American Heritage Club, Cross Country, Technology Student Association, and is her senior class Vice-President. Vivian will attend the University of Oklahoma and plans to pursue a degree in Environmental Sustainability.
Steve Dou is a published bioengineering researcher, artist, and activist who has been passionate about promoting change since a young age. As a leader of multiple clubs and student organizations in his community, Steve empowers students through hands-on activities in science and art. Additionally, he implements his research projects to help others, and he has been recognized by the Google Science Fair for his work. Steve is also an avid political cartoonist, receiving awards from the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, YoungArts Foundation, and Herb Block Foundation for his social commentary. In his free time, Steve enjoys playing his guitar, inventing new technologies, and tutoring underrepresented low-income students.
Overland Park, KS
Yaseen El-Demerdash is the co-founder of Heartland STEM Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit offering grants to educators across Kansas and Nebraska to support robotics and STEM activities. He also created and coached two FIRST robotics teams after securing $100,000 in funding to start robotics programs at all five of his district high schools. Yaseen seeks to share the opportunities and privileges he's had with as many people as he can, as well as being a role model for children with disabilities. A swimmer on the US Paralympic National Team, he currently holds 4 American Records, is an 8x Paralympic All American, and 6x record holder at his high school. He looks forward to studying mechanical engineering and running a startup after college.
As a passionate advocate for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Zoey leads the NGO MUN Impact, in collaboration with the UN Dept. of Public Information, to inspire action for the SDGs. In 2020, MUN Impact reached 25,000+ participants from 150+ countries across all of its programs. Recently, Zoey has been working on the #WASHPAP2030 Campaign to guarantee water, sanitation, hygiene, and essential pandemic protection for all by 2030. Zoey serves as president of her school's National Honor Society, Mock Trial, Model UN, and Holocaust Awareness Clubs. She initiated the spiritual caregiving program at her local hospital where she visits Jewish patients every Shabbat. This inspired her future plans to create policies that emphasize social determinants of medicine.
West Melbourne, FL
Nathan Foo is Founder/President of The Voice of Autism organization which serves the needs of children with autism by recruiting his peers as Buddies for sports and music events. Since 2018, Nathan envisioned a unique visual tennis curriculum and raised over $10,000 to bring to life his Annual Adaptive Tennis Camps introducing tennis skills in a welcoming environment. As Youth Ambassador of The Parker Foundation for Autism, he champions the importance of inclusivity to bridge the gap between autistic children and their communities. At school he serves as President of Mu Alpha Theta Math and Science National Honor Societies. As a multi-talented student, he is a 3-time International Science Fair finalist, varsity tennis team Captain, and All-State principal Oboist.
St. Paul, MN
Katherinne Fox is a distinguished volunteer dedicated to helping her community. As an ESL teacher for CLUES, she teaches low-income Spanish-speaking adults English and facilitates early childhood and language development activities for their children. At her local hospital, she partakes in healthcare-associated infection research, transports patients to rooms, and brightens up hospital stays. She also serves as President of Optimist Club, captain of her varsity soccer team, and as a mentor for Upward Bound. Seeing her family battle with inequalities in healthcare, Katherinne hopes to pursue a career in medicine to work towards eliminating health disparities. In her free time, Katherinne enjoys skating, walking her dog, and reading dystopia.
San Juan, PR
Salvador is a climate-resilience advocate and the founder of Light and Hope for Puerto Rico. The initiative, created after Hurricane MarÃa struck in 2017, raised nearly $200,000 to distribute solar-powered lamps and hand-crank washing machines to more than 3,500 underserved families. Because of his work and advocacy, Salvador has spoken at many international events, including the World Economic Forum in Davos, and has written opinion pieces for outlets such as Time Magazine and CNN Opinion. Beyond this, he also serves as student body co-president, vice-president of the Model UN team, and a dorm proctor at his high school. Salvador is the author of Hurricane: My Story of Resilience, which will go on sale in August 2021.
Palo Alto, CA
Divya "DJ DG" Ganesan drives change in her community through authentic (sometimes uncomfortable) conversations. She is the co-founder of Real Talk, a nonprofit that empowers over 1000 high schoolers to engage in empathetic, respectful political discussion. At the international level, she served as a youth delegate to the 63rd United Nation Commission on the Status of Women. Locally, she served as president of the Palo Alto Youth Council and currently serves as Castilleja School's President. She is an award-winning National History Day researcher and Indian Classical Dancer. She was admitted early to Stanford University and hopes to study the intersection of political science and technology. In her ample free time, she enjoys kickboxing and making Tik Toks.
Banan Garada is co-chair of the Federal Emergency Mgmt Agency Youth Preparedness Councils, leading 40+ members in national safety efforts, educating communities, distributing 1,400 FEMA resources. As well, her local research led to becoming an INTL Summer School Fellow in Italy for AI in medicine. As founding member & president, she obtained funds to have STEM club present at the state fair, with Upstanders Advocacy team initiated social advocacy projects, creating 10,000 notes with positive messages to encourage inclusive environments. Contributing to COVID-19 response, she authored a children's storybook, I can be well with Mommy, too!, highlighted by the First Lady. Also, she hosts a bi-monthly "Safety Matters" webinar series, with speakers from the FBI,CISA,CDC.
Overland Park, KS
Manya Gauba is the founder and CEO of GiSTEM Co., a nonprofit on a mission to bridge the STEM gender gap. Through interactive workshops, she has mentored and empowered hundreds of girls across the Midwest. Manya is the founder and president of her school's Girls in STEM and UNICEF clubs, promoting diversity and human rights. An entrepreneur and environmentalist, she has a biological patent pending to mitigate global warming. She also has an upcoming publication on her Osteoarthritis research. Manya is a Gold Award Girl Scout, Presidential Volunteer Service Awardee, and speaks 4 languages. She enjoys performing retirement concerts, volunteering at hospitals, and watching comedies. Manya is determined to drive change and build a better world.
Shruti Gautam has been an advocate in the menstrual justice sphere for years now, establishing a school-wide pilot program as a Freshman to supply free feminine hygiene products in bathrooms and later getting a $20,000 budget allocated to expand the program district-wide. She also started a local advocacy chapter to sustain her work and helped introduce state bills on providing products in secondary schools throughout Missouri. Gautam is on the international Youth Advisory Council for PERIOD and is currently running a funding research study on the effects of period poverty on youth. In her free time, she loves to collect physical music, review movies, and bike on trails. Gautam will be attending Harvard College and wants to study History of Science, the MBB track.
Kaylinn (Madison) Gosney has an extensive passion for animals and her community. She has experienced much hardship over the course of her life; this hardship inspired her to become a leader among her peers and an avid supporter of community service. Kaylinn holds officer positions in the FFA and Student Council. She is an active member of Arts and Humanities and plays basketball. Kaylinn is the founder and president of Fringe Benefits, a nonprofit, organization that is engineered to help better the lives of animals in shelters. In order to continue her mission for service, she intends to major in molecular biology and attend graduate school to become a veterinarian. In her free time she enjoys volunteering at animal shelters, riding horses, and tutoring her peers.
Anika Gupta is passionate about equity and real-world applicability in STEM education. 4 years ago, she started a classroom aquaponics project that she's since grown into a bioengineering syllabus used by over 700 student researchers. She's presented keynotes at national conferences, and is working alongside the NASA Ames Research Center to learn to grow food sustainably on Earth and Mars. Anika also co-founded Project Portland Carry, a nonprofit to support students during COVID through educational helplines and accessible lunch delivery. Anika loves Speech and Debate, and rebuilt her school's club into a statewide powerhouse amid existential challenges. She plans to study computational biology and pursue a career in biomedical research.
Ann Arbor, MI
As an Ojibwe woman, Madeline Gupta recognizes the resilience of her ancestors and continues to carry on their legacy through her work. She develops and directs several literacy programs through ByKids4Kids, organizing networks of community aid throughout the country, an effort recognized by Yale University with the Yale Bassett Award. Through writing for Indigenizing the News and The Yale Daily News, as well as speaking at Tedx, on the radio, and at national hackathons, she aims to decolonize learning environments, notably in STEM. Cultivating a love for movement and music, she participates in a local ballet company and teaches for the Adaptive Dance Program. In her free time, she likes to paint, play with her dog Miley, and skateboard.
Tara Harmon is the founder and president of Swimming for All 501(c)(3), a nonprofit organization which has taught 350 children with disabilities how to swim and received $35,000 in grant funding. Additionally, Tara has raised $15,000 to combat childhood hunger in underserved Indianapolis communities, ultimately donating 5,000 pounds of fresh produce and impacting the lives of over 1,500 young individuals. Aside from being a competitive swimmer, she is the president of her local Best Buddies chapter, a member of student council, and has published several medical research papers. In her free time, Tara enjoys running and working as a cake-designer and barista. She intends to major in neuroscience and ultimately pursue a career in medicine.
Layla Hedroug shows her passion and determination through leadership: as Founder and President of Amnesty International Club, President of MUN, Student Body President, and her School Newspaper's Chief Editor, she remains active in her community. By establishing Amnesty, she raised awareness for human rights abuses worldwide, sponsored orphans, and hosted refugee and Uyghur Muslim Awareness Weeks. Layla hopes to pursue a career in emergency medicine. From joining Northwestern's Medicine Discovery program and winning WYSE state awards to raising $20,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Layla's fervency for medicine is indisputable. At her gym, she's the lone Muslim woman boxer. This fall, she'll attend Northwestern to continue her research and activism.
Mount Olive, NC
As the owner of her nonprofit, The Make A Difference Food Pantry, Kenzie has provided 6.25 million meals, distributed over 5.6 Million pounds of food, established 6 additional pantries, a mobile disaster program which has traveled and assisted 5 states since opening in 2014. Kenzie has served on the National FEMA Youth Preparedness Council, NC Youth Legislative Assembly, Fremont Junior Rescue, Dudley Fire Department, and a member of 4H where she has shown livestock and competed with the Skillathon Team. She was named as the NC Spokeskid for Volunteerism by the Governor. Kenzie will attend Campbell University to Major in Nursing and minor in Healthcare Management to become a nurse practitioner. She enjoys playing golf, public speaking, and cooking.
Driven by his passion for an inclusive world, Ethan co-founded and is president of the Best Buddies Chapter at his high school, which was recognized by the state senate. He serves as student body president and co-president of Aidan's masterpiece and SJ Closet. He is a four-year varsity soccer player and merged his love for soccer and advocacy for others as Program Director of a unified soccer program, GOALS (Giving Opportunities to All who Love Soccer). As founder and President of South Bend Strong, a nonprofit advocating for the most vulnerable in his community, he focuses on individuals impacted by cognitive and behavioral disorders. In college, Ethan hopes to dovetail the study of neuroscience with his commitment to advocate for others.
Ellie Huh is a policy intern at the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, a nonprofit that seeks to address state-wide gendered violence. She is a TASP 2021 alumni, and as the only high school recipient of the Nevada Undergraduate Research Award (UNR), she conducted research with mentor Dr. Lydia Huerta about feminist media. She is a staff writer at The Peahce Project, an editor at Polyphony Lit, the president of Helping Hands, and the founder of Medus-huh. Additionally, she is the captain of her varsity volleyball team, and has received both athletic and academic nominations as a high school athlete. In college, Ellie hopes to study Gender and Sexuality Studies, as well as Comparative Literature.
Janvi Huria is the founder of the Curiosity Partnership, which provides hundreds of elementary students with science education. Working with (inter)national nonprofits including the American Medical Women's Association and iGIANT, she advocates for gender-specific medicine. She researched immunomodulatory hormonal function in vaccines which was published and shared with the White House. She serves executive roles on her Science Olympiad and HOSA teams (and placed at the international level), researches virtual screening for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, runs a monetized activism blog, and plays varsity volleyball. She plans on either attending MIT, UNC-Chapel Hill as a Pogue Scholar, or Northwestern to study cognitive science and sociology.
Shania Hurtado uplifts her community through her activism for gender equality, women in STEM, and passion for education. She serves as a Girl Up Teen Advisor, Coalition Leader for the Girl Up Southeast Texas Coalition, as well as a Women Deliver Young Leader. From interning with Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), to founding and directing Houston Girls Code, a coding camp for over 20 girls, to speaking at the Youth United Nations General Assembly, she strives to amplify women's voices. A National Hispanic Scholar, Shania is Valedictorian, President of the National Honor Society, and Model UN Vice President. Honored as a "20 Under 20 Young Innovator" by Diversity in Action magazine, she will be attending Harvard University in the fall.
Baton Rouge, LA
Jay Iyer is the founder and CEO of his nonprofit organization, MIND Relief, which is dedicated to providing support to patients, families, and caregivers on rare neurodegenerative diseases. He also leads his school's Chemistry Club, reaching hundreds of students every year through outreach events. He is passionate about neuroscience, having conducted extensive research on developing novel drugs for the treatment of neurological illnesses and presenting at ISEF and JSHS. Most recently, he worked on identifying proteins associated with Huntington's Disease as a Research Science Institute Scholar. Jay is planning to attend Harvard University to major in biomedical engineering. In his free time, he loves weightlifting and playing ultimate frisbee.
Ethan James is an aspiring ophthalmologist whose ultimate mission is to restore the vision of those who have lost it - the greatest gift one can give. Throughout high school, he has presented his research in ophthalmology conferences all over the world in cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Los Angeles. Many of his works are also published in highly-ranked scientific journals and articles. Besides his extensive volunteerism at Children's Hospital Colorado, Ethan is the founder and executive director of his nonprofit, STEM for Kids Colorado, which aims to encourage underprivileged, elementary school students to explore various fields of STEM through peer-to-peer education. Outside of academics, Ethan is an internationally-competitive hockey player and classical pianist.
Salt Lake City, UT
Vishal Jammulapati co-founded the Global Youth Climate Action Declaration (GYCAD) during the 2019 UN Climate Summit and has continued his activism as the Lead Organizer for the international Localizing Climate Justice Conference Series (LCJC). Vishal enjoys learning languages and speaks Arabic and French with advanced proficiency as a non-native speaker. Volunteering at the IRC and co-founding the first U.S chapter of the Shropshire Music Foundation in Salt Lake has driven his interest in decolonization and tackling the refugee crisis. He plans on studying Culture and Politics at Georgetown University in the Fall of 2021. In his free time, he enjoys baking sourdough and arguing about proper coffee-brewing techniques.
Devishi Jha is a social entrepreneur who has advised brands including Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, IKEA, Salesforce, etc. on sustainability strategy. She is the Director of Partnerships at Zero Hour, an international youth-led climate organization, and serves on the National Council at UNICEF USA. Devishi has been recognized a GenZ leader in environment by the Conversationalist and as Green Matters's top 10 climate activists to watch, alongside Greta Thunberg. In addition to publishing a research paper with Harvard's Dr. Truncer as her mentor, Devishi also serves on her local city council, is the concertmaster of her high school symphonic orchestra, and captains the speech and debate team. She hopes to study economics and environmental science in college.
Grace Jones is the founder and president of 3 service organizations with international reach. Through Focus AIR, she has led 100+ students across the US to make 5000+ pieces of PPE; been featured in 11 news articles; and partnered with groups in Cambodia, Denmark, Mexico, and Kenya. Having fostered 20 dogs from medical emergencies and slaughterhouses rescues, she co-founded Teens4Training to provide free dog training workshops to 175+ new dog owners. Creating Aspire to Inspire, Grace engages impoverished and foster youth in art activities and academic support. Fascinated by chemistry, she has conducted 7 independent research projects from biochemistry to audiology. Outside of school, she is a 10-year competitor in Junior Olympic Gymnastics.
Joint Base Lewis–McChord, WA
Kathleen founded Chicas of Technology to create a supportive environment for girls' Computer Science (CS) education and mentorship. She writes research on driving factors and solutions for women's disparity in CS and leads CS initiatives through her school and the Civil Air Patrol, where her Cyber Patriot team placed first in-state for the all-service division. She studied Mobile App Development through the MOSTEC program, Design Connect Create Physics at Rice University, and robotics at John's Hopkins University. She enjoys physics through projects such as creating a cloud chamber and plasma ray as a physics intern at Pierce College. She is a National Winner of Aspirations in Computing and of the Congressional App Challenge with the Women of Color Code App.
KaLa Keaton founded her school Social Justice Club that promotes activism through student-led initiatives, completing 12 projects with 10 local and national organizations. Her passion for history stems from a class Truth and Reconciliation campaign with the Equal Justice Initiative to investigate the only recorded lynching victim in her county. She has presented at over 15 state and national forums, including the North Carolina State Board of Education and Public School Forum of North Carolina, discussing culturally responsive curriculum. She's a Gold Award Girl Scout, Chuck Stone Scholar and intern for education researcher Dr. Ali Michael. She loves novel writing, technical theatre and anime. KaLa will attend Yale University to study history and education policy.
Ottawa Hills, OH
Ishan Khare is the founder of plantpoweredyouth.org, which provides science-based nutrition resources to visitors from 80+ countries. He initiated the Healthful Nutrition Club in school, which has educated thousands of people in the local community on good health. An Eagle Scout, he built raised garden beds to grow organic vegetables for use in free community meals. Ishan is a Coolidge Senator, National Merit Scholar, Research Science Institute Scholar, Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar, and the first author of a peer-reviewed research paper. He is the captain of his school's nationally-ranked Quizbowl team, a 2nd-degree black belt, and a Hindustani Classical singer. He is considering studying in a STEM field at Stanford University.
Kunal Kumar is the cofounder of Hustle2Heart, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that evens the playing field for at-risk children in urban NY and NJ communities by holding sports clinics and providing equipment. Kunal also cofounded Brainzzon, a service club that teaches computer literacy and robotics to youth in under-served areas. As President of his school's Model Congress, he has championed legislation for criminal justice system reform, mental health policies in schools, and decriminalization of opioid-based offenses. An avid writer, Kunal serves as Layout Editor-in-Chief of his school newspaper and has published a book of poetry highlighting social issues. In his free time, Kunal enjoys biking, learning Korean, and listening to Frank Ocean.
Johns Creek, GA
Sarah Lao is the Cofounder and Executive Director of the Dear Loneliness Project, a large-scale collaborative art exhibit, research study, and COVID-19 archival effort that has collected over 35,000 letters to date. She is also the editor-in-chief of EX/POST, an experimental literary magazine focused on amplifying underrepresented voices. Additionally, she advocates for a more diverse school curriculum as a Fulton County Youth Commissioner and combats sex trafficking with the Gender Equality and Relations Forum. In her free time, she plays piano, and her writing can be found in AGNI, Narrative, and New Delta Review, among others. She will attend either Harvard University or Stanford University and hopes to pursue the digital humanities.
Will Li is a math/CS researcher who works to inspire others to cultivate STEM passions. Will has published five papers on topics from autonomous driving to AI in board games, and he researches dynamical systems with MIT PRIMES. Will enjoys promoting science education: he leads STEM outreach in underrepresented communities, founded his school's Research Program, and organized a math conference for MIT. During COVID, he hosted a state wide virtual science fair that was the largest in NJ history and founded Radiant Research nonprofit to build interschool research collaborations, promote women in STEM, and fundraise for underfunded science programs. Outside of science, Will co-founded the Politics Club and is a nationally acclaimed PF debater.
Anne Liang is an avid researcher whose projects have won awards at the Intel ISEF, Regeneron STS, and National JSHS. This past summer at the Research Science Institute, she created a program linking periodontitis, an oral disease, to autoimmune diseases. Outside of the lab, Anne enjoys applying her love for research to address social issues. She is the founder and executive director of STEMThink, an international nonprofit that connects STEM with mental health, and leads her school's Future Problem Solving team. An accomplished poet, she has received multiple Gold Keys and a Silver Medal from the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. Passionate about computational biology, Anne plans to attend Stanford, Yale, or MIT as a pre-med student.
Ashley Lin is a social entrepreneur and community builder on a mission to reimagine the future of education. Ashley is the founder of Project Exchange, a youth-led 501c3 nonprofit democratizing access to study abroad through virtual exchange programs. She's the author of "Youth Organizer," a book on how young people can build more powerful digital-first communities (expected publication Aug. 2021) and co-founder of the Mindful Applicant, an edtech startup leveraging the college application process for social emotional learning. Ashley is a Founding Fellow at Civics Unplugged, National Geographic Young Explorer, and previous U.S. Youth Ambassador to Uruguay. She will attend the M&T program at the University of Pennsylvania.
John Lin is a first-generation student who is passionate about harnessing science and journalism to address social issues in his community. He created a video exhibit with the Boston Children's Museum to make science accessible for a diverse audience. As a journalist, John led a project uncovering gentrification in his Allston community and created curriculum celebrating neighborhood identities for local students. Through his love for microbes, John has investigated more effective methods to prevent cavities in low-income communities. He is a 4th place winner and three-time finalist at ISEF, a National JSHS Finalist, and an RSI Scholar. In college, John hopes to pursue his love for interdisciplinary learning to become a physician-scientist.
Bloomfield Hills, MI
A social entrepreneur driven to use technology to improve the standard of living, Jonah Liss founded Mediumize.com â€” a platform helping individuals at high-risk to COVID-19 through essential errands across 155 cities, technology assistance, and activism projects. Later on, Liss began conducting political research by leveraging AI to analyze social media data, with plans to commercialize a variety of social impact-oriented services. Liss is also the president of his school's buildOn chapter, which fundraises over $30,000 annually to build a school in a developing nation. Other leadership positions he holds include on his local area's Climate Reality Project chapter, varsity tennis and forensics team, and school's investment club.
Amy Liu is the Co-founder and Co-president of her school's Titans for Inclusion & Equity club, which is dedicated to amplifying the voices of minority students across the district. Having grown up with a visually impaired grandfather and half-paralyzed grandmother, Amy combines her passion for disability advocacy with digital innovation as the founder of Text It Out: a mobile iOS application that compiles accessible mental health resources for the deaf community. In addition, she enjoys writing poetry, studying the revitalization of endangered languages, and reading Spanish literature. She is considering attending UC Berkeley, UCLA, or Vanderbilt for her undergraduate education, where she hopes to major in computer science and linguistics.
Through her paintings, Jackie Liu fuses art and activism, utilizing her social media platforms of over 1 million followers (@jackieliuart on TikTok and Instagram) to amplify social justice issues. She has raised over $6000 for various nonprofits by selling her work worldwide, and has been featured by Instagram, Buzzfeed, Glossier, XXL, and Character Media. She founded Colors of Care, a nonprofit that digitally donates original coloring pages to hospitals, foster care programs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and schools across the country. She founded and co-leads her school’s Girl Up chapter, and serves as Girl Up’s New England Regional Leader. At school, she co-captains the Debate Team, captains the varsity tennis team, and serves on School Council.
Combining her passions for equity and Computer Science, Yanni Ma is a STEM leader studying Machine Learning models to combat algorithmic bias and solve social issues. Her independent and university-based ML research has used NLP to classify Tweets and analyze decision-making. As President of her robotics team, she fosters inclusion, inspires future engineers, and mentors 2nd-8th graders. Focused on empowering women, she leads chapters of SWENext and She's The First. Her interest in social justice emphasizes educational equity and access to STEM opportunities. By coding websites, she disseminates information to new audiences. In college, she will study CS with a global mindset and further explore languages, advocacy, and ethical philanthropy.
Anna MacLennan is the Founder of Girl Power Politics, which works to close the political gender gap by introducing female and non-binary youth to activism and government. Passionate about public service, gender equality, and API/A issues, Anna was a delegate to the US Senate Youth Program, served on a local commission advocating for gender equality, and now works on ECAASU's National Conference Team. Anna also has a deep love of science. She was a NASA SEES intern, has led many STEM outreach initiatives, and was named to The Mars Generation's Global 24 Under 24. Next year, Anna plans to study Physics and International Relations with the future goal of helping to bridge the gap between science and policy across all levels of government.
Abbie's vision is to make a difference in the fight against cancer through research, fundraising, and youth education efforts. Abbie's cancer research earned her the title of being a SoCal Top 5 biomedical R&D scholar. Understanding the importance of research funding, she led a campaign which raised $85,000 for a LLS research portfolio. In order to promote equitable student access to biomedical research opportunities, Abbie founded BiomediGirls, benefiting students globally through online courses, podcasts, speaker series, and scholarships to research programs which she funded through the sale of her children's book about stem cells. She looks forward to studying biomedical engineering in college to further her impact in the lab and beyond.
Mahathi Mangipudi, an environmental enthusiast, is the founder and president of Global cli-Mates and Earth Say, through which she empowers youth to speak up for our planet. She attended the 2018 International Earth Science Olympiad in Thailand, earning a bronze medal and qualifying for a silver medal. Mahathi helps organize the USESO summer programs as an assistant director and teaches earth science at Science Infinity, bridging the environmental education gap. She testifies at council meetings and has developed a student-led climate action plan to combat climate change locally. She enjoys interdisciplinary research and applies CS to study erosional mechanisms in the Himalayas. In her free time, she loves to cook, write poetry, and sing.
As the captain of her FIRST robotics team, Sriya builds and competes with 120-lb robots. She is also a student researcher at the Duke Randles Lab and the UNC-CH Cardiovascular Modeling Lab where she leverages computational fluid dynamics to help transform medicine from reactionary to preventative. Sriya is also passionate about creating equity in STEM fields. She has reached 5000+ students by founding 3 Society of Women Engineers chapters, creating a STEM-on-Wheels initiative for students without access to transportation, and launching LEGO robotics programs in the Grenadines and India. Sriya plans on exploring biomedical engineering, women's studies, and global health in college. In her free time, she enjoys classical dancing, street photography, and traveling.
Amelia Marcum is an intersectional feminist activist committed to social justice. As founding President of her school's Girl Up club, a UN initiative encouraging girls to advocate for equality, she has hosted dozens of awareness and advocacy campaigns. Amelia serves as one of twenty-five girls worldwide on Girl Up's Teen Advisory Board and is a global spokesperson on critical issues affecting underrepresented girls. In 2020, she was honored to represent Indian Country in speaking at the inaugural Youth UN General Assembly on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Amelia's dream is to shape groundbreaking public policy and positively impact Native youth as an ambassador for Sovereign Nations. She will be attending Stanford University.
Ellwood City, PA
Motivated by personal experiences, Molly created KidsToo, which aims to empower domestic and child abuse survivors as well as tackle family court reform. As a Pioneer Academics Scholar, Molly continued researching the effects of abusive parenting through an undergraduate mentorship. She also directs "The Hartman News," which provides the daily morning announcements to both elementary school students and the greater community. Besides being a student at Lincoln High School, Molly is treasurer of the senior class and National Honors Society president. She also enjoys tutoring, anchoring for her school's morning news, playing the piano, and competing as a dual-sport varsity athlete. In the future, Molly wants to pursue law to continue advocating for the unheard.
Grosse Pointe Park, MI
Be it ions, iambs, or interviews, Eva McCord relishes in straddling the line between hands-on investigation and peer-to-peer communication. As the 2021 Michigan Journalist of the Year and a 2020 Free Spirit Scholar, she utilizes journalism to autonomize her own communities, culminating in her founding of The Joyce Ivy Foundation's podcast Heard Through The Vine. The project targets FGLI young women from the Midwest, equipping over 800 students with the resources necessary to fill the demographic's gap in higher education spaces. Eva has also been published across various disciplines, ranging from international poetry journals to the American Chemical Society. Eva will be attending the University of Chicago to pursue neuroscience and HIPS.
Melinda Modisette loves the color neon yellow, smiling, and adventures. She is the creator of the Cross-Cultural Art Exchange, a project dedicated to connecting students from around the world through making mixed culture art. She founded the ABQ Fight COVID-19 initiative which provided 8,000+ free masks to the New Mexican community and Navajo Nation. Melinda is the Captain of her school's Varsity Boys Wrestling Team and helped pioneer the first Women's Wrestling State Championship in New Mexico. She is the 2020 Semper Fidelis All-American Female of the Year and the 2021 Prudential State Honoree. She has committed to Harvard and will major in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Visual Arts. After Business graduate school, Melinda plans to become an entrepreneur.
As a co-founder and current president of the Minority Student Union, Diya Mohnot has created a platform for underrepresented students to speak and raise awareness about their adversities while presenting crucial information on marginalized groups. Last summer, she studied probability theory through a Harvard math program and wrote a paper on the prosecutor's fallacy while working on two winning local senate campaigns dedicated to fighting for environmental justice and racial equity in Delaware. This school year, Diya was appointed as the Student Representative for the Delaware Department of Education by the Secretary of Education, where she provides resources for over 10,000 underprivileged students to keep learning during the pandemic.
Morgan is the Co-Founder and Co-President of Gifting For Thrifting, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has provided free clothing to thousands of families in the Chicagoland area through pop-up thrift stores and Gifting While Distancing orders that began at the start of Covid-19. GFT has redistributed hundreds of thousands of donated clothing items to homeless shelters, community centers, and families since its founding in 2018. Morgan's goal is to expand GFT globally to solve the need for clothing worldwide while providing a sustainable recycling solution to the pollution problem that fast fashion creates. Morgan is the Co-Founder of the Allies in Diversity Club, President of Interact Club and Spanish NHS, and Vice President of NHS at her school.
Overland Park, KS
As a passionate advocate for social justice, Hananeel Morinville founded The Coalition of Racial Equality (CORE). Understanding the political climate. the purpose of CORE was to create a safe haven in the school for students of color that felt marginalized & address different community issues that largely went unrecognized. Since 2018, CORE has collected books to donate to international schools as well as Kansas City Metro Area schools. Recognizing the disparities COVID-19 would cause in her community, Hananeel organized two different food drives in June of 2020 to ensure the needs of members in her community were met. She is a Princeton Prize & President's Gold Service Recipient & worked with Harvard University on a nationwide Voter Registration Initiative.
Passionate about machine learning, Aneesh Muppidi has published academic research on AI models for sarcoidosis diagnosis and speech emotion recognition. As an AI researcher, Aneesh is passionate about ethical machine learning practices and is working to eliminate colorist data bias. He is the founder of TEDxGuilderlandHS, a platform for high school students to share underrepresented stories, and LettersForBetter, an organization that's sent over 4500 letters to essential workers nationwide. He also works on mental health awareness through his SAMHI Initiative and cultural awareness through his work as a student cabinet representative. In his spare time, Aneesh competes at hackathons, robotics competitions, and volleyball tournaments.
Hayat Muse is a cofounder of Kow iyo Labo. A Minnesota-based youth-powered nonprofit committed to addressing educational inequity through tutoring, mentoring, advocacy, and student-led workshops for parents and teachers on navigating the western education system, cultural competence, and utilizing diversity as a tool in the classroom. Hayat is also very involved in her school, where she serves as the co-captain of the speech and debate teams and founder and president of the school’s social consciousness club. Hayat is very passionate about educational reform and racial justice and wishes to pursue a career in which she will be able to continue to use her voice to address these injustices.
As a passionate advocate for equity and inclusion in NYC schools, Sikirat Mustapha uses her voice everyday to advocate for NYC's 1.1 million public school students on a statewide and national level. In her primary roles serving as an Executive Board Member of the Chancellor's Advisory Council and Director of IntegrateNYC, Sikirat can be seen mobilizing thousands at town halls, organizing rallies, speaking on panels, and constructing policies that work to eradicate the inequitable practices in NYC public schools. Sikirat's love for equity also branches outside of education, where she can also be seen advocating for racial justice, fair housing and women's rights. With her free time, she enjoys exploring different cultures through the arts of food, music and dance.
Tierra Verde, FL
Makenna Myrick is the founder of Smiles for STEM Inc., an organization that is advocating and fundraising for inclusive STEM curriculum for children with physical disabilities in Florida. Passionate about educational equity, she created the IB Friendly Faces Mentoring Program and the IB Inclusion Initiative to foster connections between 300 freshmen and augment minority voices in her IB program. She is the President of the Tampa Bay Medical Club, the Vice President of the Sunshine State Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and a Varsity Track Captain. Outside of school, she is a New York Academy of Sciences â€˜Young Scientist' and completed a research proposal linking the DEAD-box protein to lung cancer metastasis at the University of Florida.
Gurnoor Narula is an entrepreneur and CEO of his disruptive social impact venture, Groundify. He has invented technology that revolutionizes repurposing and has mobilized 200,000 citizens to advocate for environmental sustainability. As a YEA Saunders Scholar, a Blue Ocean National Champion, and an NFTE Global Finalist, Gurnoor has become a changemaker and a leader. He is also the Texas Model UN Deputy Secretary General, is an internationally recognized saxophonist, and is conducting research on the economic applications of impact investing. He aspires to continue driving positive societal impact through a prestigious business education. You can catch him working out, jamming at a jazz gig, or enjoying with his family in his free time.
Michael Odzer has had a passion for scientific discovery since childhood, which has fueled his desire to protect the environment, improve his community, and mentor younger students. His research has garnered dozens of awards including two trips to ISEF, two publications, and recognition as a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar. He is founder and President of his school's Environmental Action Club, President of the Engineering Club and Science Honor Society, and Captain of the drone racing team. Michael plays varsity basketball and volleyball, enjoys working on his drone photography business, tinkering with his 3D printer, and hanging out with friends. He will be attending Brown University in the fall to study engineering or economics.
Fort Walton Beach, FL
Caroline Colby Orcutt is the co-founder of three service organizations including a new student orientation. Mitigating COVID's impact, Colby's team transitioned the program online positively impacting hundreds of students and families. At Fort Walton Beach HS, Colby is President of Mu Alpha Theta, Student 2 Student and I Am Enough Club. A leader by example, she is the Captain of four sports teams earning multiple National and State Championship medals. Colby is also the HS Heisman Female National Winner, a member of the US Pentathlon Youth National Team, a Carson Scholar, the Distinguished Young Woman of Oklahoma and a Gold Award Girl Scout. Attending Michigan State University Honors College, she will major in Kinesiology and row with the Spartan Women's Team.
Nahla Owens, a passionate advocate for racial justice, voting rights, and equity in education, has conducted research with the American Civil Liberties Union to minimize racial disparities in schools and has crafted anti-racist policy recommendations as the President of her school's Afro-Latinx Society. On the national stage, she has advocated for her community as the Gen-Z Coordinator for Black Women for Biden and registered hundreds of voters as the manager of a Students Demand Action Virtual Field Office. Internationally she has represented the Caucus of Women and Girls of African Descent at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Nahla hopes to pursue a career in public policy and utilize legislative means to achieve racial justice.
Rucheng Pan is the founder of She#, an organization promoting girls in computer science, specifically those attending underserved schools without the financial resources to host computer science courses. Rucheng values student involvement and initiative as she is active in numerous clubs, including She's The First, Spanish Honor Society, and Culture Club. Passionate about giving back to local immigrant communities, she teaches computer and English literacy courses at a resettlement organization. In college, Rucheng plans on studying computer science and international relations, hoping to explore the role of technology in United States-Asia-Pacific relations. Outside of school, she enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and baking cookies.
Srikar Parsi is a scientific researcher and two-time ISEF finalist. As an emerging entrepreneur, he developed Solvus and is currently working on PikFarm, apps that were both selected for MIT's Sandbox Innovation Fund. Srikar is also passionate about data ethics and has previously interned at iEdit, a secure social media startup, while writing regulatory policy for a congressional campaign. In addition, Srikar co-captains Neutrinos, the 2020 Florida robotics state champions, and teaches STEM subjects to underprivileged students. He plays tennis and the violin at school, and he has helped raise over $100,000 for hospitalized children through Chargerthon. In his free time, Srikar enjoys playing basketball and learning new skills like juggling.
Ashna Patel is the Co-Founder of STEM & Buds, a by-youth, for-youth nonprofit redefining inclusivity & accessibility in STEM by bridging students to mentors, shaping ideas into initiatives, and translating science for civics; since 2018, they've helped over 3500 youth through 62 chapters, 6 camps, & dozens of outreach programs worldwide. Ashna has also conducted computational biology research (in the Summer Science Program & Hillman Cancer Center Academy) and pursued independent engineering projects (in water sanitation, sustainable housing, & medical scan enhancement). She's a Speech & Debate competitor/coach and a campaign fellow for the PA Dems/PennEnvironment. Next year, she'll join UPenn's Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management.
Hiteshi Patel is a transformational and participatory leader committed to taking an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare. She is the founder of Books & Bandages, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting healthcare inequities through community-based action, having served over 2,000 patients internationally. She often publishes research about the neurophysiology of opioid addiction therapies and perspectives on medicine throughout history. As a social entrepreneur, she is the CEO/Co-founder of EcoX, a manufacturer of novel bioplastic labware used to mitigate plastic waste, and has acquired over $15,000 in seed funding. She plans on majoring in chemistry or neuroscience and aspires to become a globally active physician.
Elk Grove Village, IL
Krisha Patel is currently a bioinformatics student researcher at Northwestern University, and is committed to helping bridge the gender gap in computing as a national programs team representative for ProjectCSGIRLS. A public speaking enthusiast, Krisha also serves as both the lead student coordinator of TEDxYouth@IMSA and co-founder of Fision Lens, a venture seeking to develop a thin, optical film capable of making inexpensive glasses prescription updates. Next year, Krisha plans to attend Harvard University to study computational biology and public health, and in the future, she hopes to continue serving others as both a healthcare professional and social entrepreneur. In her free time, Krisha also enjoys listening to podcasts and dancing!
Tej Patel is passionate about equity in science. As the co-founder of MORE-STEM, he has recruited mentors from across the country to deliver free research opportunities and tutoring to middle school students. Tej is also a science researcher himself, authoring papers in single-cell neurogenomics, studying biofilm formation using mechanistic techniques, and combating melanoma through zebrafish models. Currently, Tej is captain of his school's science teams and officer of an internationally-renowned DECA chapter. His marketing campaigns and business leadership have been praised by the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He hopes to merge his interests in management and medicine by becoming a physician-scientist and biotech entrepreneur.
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Sönke is foremost a community member, of both local and international spaces. Building an alliance across 8 countries with the UN and his nonprofit ("UBUN"), Sönke furthers awareness wherever he can. Likewise, he serves his classmates as Class Representative, Head Delegate, Editor-in-Chief, NHS Co-President, and Peer Corps Captain. Moving beyond titles, Sönke carries his social passion into these communities, creating the first Model UN Accessibility fund or poll-working though he cannot vote himself. Recently, Sönke lent himself to educational equity, working to decolonize eurocentric curricula and decenter whiteness. Come fall, Sönke plans to attend Columbia University, studying economics-political science or socio-cultural anthropology.
Madeline Proctor is a nationally-recognized student journalist and youth policymaker. She currently attends Regis Jesuit High School, where she serves as Editor in Chief of the school magazine, a member of the school’s Mock Trial “A” Team, and captain of the Girls Swim & Dive Team. Madeline is passionate about bringing the empathy found in journalism and the humanities to politics. As a journalist, she has used her platform within her school and as Executive Director of Communications for the Colorado High School Democrats to call for criminal justice reform and racial justice. Madeline has helped draft policy for the Colorado state legislature to promote personal financial literacy, mental health resources, and foster care reform. In the Fall, she plans on attending either Harvard College or Yale University to pursue a career in law or public policy.
Salt Lick, KY
As a passionate advocate for intersectional activism, Maiqi holds leadership roles at Dear Asian Youth, Blessing Hands, and Space to Speak nonprofit organizations that strive to uplift and support marginalized communities. At school, Maiqi conducts microbiology research on the International Space Station, leads the Varsity Track and Soccer teams, and serves as Captain of the Speech & Debate team. Maiqi is also the Founder and President of the Interact Club, where she grows alongside her peers in servant leadership. Maiqi can often be found teaching ESL classes, thrifting to fuel her passion for sustainable fashion, or diving into a novel at her favorite coffee shop. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career at the intersection of business and social justice.
Jahin Rahman is the founder of the international nonprofit Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh (EYDB). EYDB aims to provide educational opportunities to thousands of Bangladeshi street children through projects such as building libraries, literacy programs, and schools. Engaging over 400 young people from eight countries, Jahin has received several recognitions for EYDB, including the 2020 Power of Children Award and the NFTE WSI Award. Jahin is also passionate about youth activism and has been working with the NYC Department of Education to found the DOE's first youth activism coalition. Playing classical Indian music is another passion that Jahin pursues as a guitar performer through BIPA. Jahin will be attending the University of Pennsylvania.
Shreya Ramachandran is a scientist, environmentalist and grey water advocate. She was moved to action after witnessing the devastating effects of droughts, and she conducted research to see how grey water could be reused for irrigation. She promotes the safe reuse of grey water and water conservation through her nonprofit, The Grey Water Project, and has influenced thousands worldwide. She is her City's Youth Sustainability Commissioner; leads initiatives as president of her city's and school's environmental clubs and as a rep to the school board. She is a National Geographic Young Explorer, recipient of the President's Environmental Youth Award, Gloria Barron Prize and Children's Climate Prize, and winner at ISEF, Google Science Fair and BioGENEius to name a few.
Andre Ramsey is a student leader who truly believes in the power of kindness. He shows this through his leadership and dedication to everything that he does. Today, Andre currently serves as Area 11 President and Vice-President of Marketing for Washington DECA, Associated Student Body President, Varsity Soccer Captain and serves in multiple other leadership positions within his school and community. Andre holds the distinctions of United States Senate Youth Program Scholar, Alexander Hamilton Scholar, Youth Leadership Consortium Scholar and is a 2-time Carson Scholar. In his free time, Andre works as a Broista at Dutch Bro's Coffee of Spokane, Washington. After high school, Andre plans to either serve as DECA Inc. International Executive President or attend Harvard.
Richard Ren is an environmentalist who aims to fight climate change through advanced technologies. He has designed a framework to forecast air quality through machine learning techniques, published in the Air & Waste Management Association's 113th Annual Conference as 1st author. He also conducts nanophotonics research at Stony Brook University, where he developed a novel scattering near-field microscopy probe design and deep learning-driven signal analysis system, with publications in Applied Physics Express and Physical Review Applied. Moreover, he volunteers with educational nonprofit Global Camps Africa, where he won the President's Volunteer Service Award for creating educational films and music that benefited thousands of kids.
Madison Reynolds is an active member of her community. Madison Reynolds is the founder of the Muslim Student Association at her high school and leads several in-school organizations that spark unity and enable youth expression. Out of school, she is involved in Upward Bound and the National Society of Black Engineers to create equal opportunity and prepare first-generation, low-income minority students for higher education. In her free time, Madison created a biodegradable COVID mask clip and continues to improve her design. Madison Reynolds' goals are to shine a light on humanitarian crises that the media fails to spotlight while making marginalized voices heard. Madison will matriculate at Yale University to achieve her goals.
John Rho is an aspiring social entrepreneur dedicated to exploring the intersection between science and business. In the sciences, he has worked on making more natural-sounding hearing aids to address the cocktail party problem, competing at fairs such as ISEF, TXSEF, and AJAS. In business, he has co-founded two student-run nonprofit organizations: C.A.S.H. Club Corp. and the Association for Young Scientists and Innovators. John has shared his passion for investing, mentorship, and entrepreneurship through these organizations, and in addition, he has participated in scouting since elementary school, earning his Eagle Scout rank. During his free time, John enjoys playing basketball, eating McDonald's, and drinking Coca-Cola.
Allan Riedel-Morillo, as an active member of his community and captain of his high school's Track and Field team, has led an initiative to help promote and bring awareness to youth with intellectual disabilities participating in sports. Allan also works closely with the Board of Education as a Student Representative, he uses this position to advocate for the students of his community as well as the ESL (English second language) students since he was once in their shoes. He spends his free time either playing sports or hanging out with his friends. In college, Allan is considering attending UCLA, UNC, or Howard University and wants to major in political science and minor in business.
Peyton Ronkin is the founder of Dipped with Love, raising over $20,000 to fund gentler cures for childhood cancers by selling homemade chocolate-covered treats. She also baked and donated over 2,000 desserts to healthcare workers during the pandemic. Peyton is currently ranked second in the nation in Public Forum Debate. After experiencing sexism in debate, she now uses this platform to champion gender equality. She also launched Balance of PowHER, a blog showcasing successful female leaders who have overcome gender barriers. At school, she is President of Math Circles, an enrichment program for young girls. She was a Bank of America Student Leader and is the Co-Valedictorian of her class. Peyton will attend the University of Pennsylvania.
Laura Saavedra Forero
Laura Saavedra Forero is the co-founder and CEO of By Immigrant Hands, a clothing company whose mission is to empower immigrants while giving back to the community through their sales. She is also the co-coordinator of Extinction Rebellion Youth Charlotte and a national action coordinator for Extinction Rebellion Youth US, a movement that strives to combat climate injustice. Apart from that, Laura is the founder and director of Aprende Jugando, a summer camp for underprivileged Latinx kids and she's currently working on developing a student-run DEI consulting firm for PWIs. At school, she is the president of the Hispanic and/or Latinx Alliance, a member of the Diversity Executive Board, and part of the International Studies Board.
Anshita Saini is a passionate researcher using technology to tackle health-related challenges. For the past two years, she's worked with the University of Washington to develop techniques that allow mobile phones to quantify activities and detect stroke risk. As Founder and President of Technovation Club, she collaborated on an app that combats vaping addiction. Beyond her healthcare interests, Anshita is a rocketeer and published astrophysics researcher. At the Summer Science Program, she calculated the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid. Throughout her life, she's balanced her passions for STEM and the performing arts. As the Vice President of She Codes Art, Anshita strives to promote diversity in CS through a unique art-based approach.
Jamal Sayid is an advocate for social justice as the President and Founder of Global Diversity and Awareness Club (GDAC), a national organization that fosters an understanding of world events and promotes racial inclusion. Jamal is a World Science Scholar and is actively researching issues ranging from education inequality to healthcare and has presented solutions including congressional legislation. He coordinated PPE service drives for Atlanta clinics and hospitals and raised thousands of dollars to support essential workers as Senior Class President and a President's Volunteer Service Award Gold recipient. Jamal intends to double major in Political Science and Business Administration at Rice University as a Trustee Distinguished Scholar.
Krish Shah has a steadfast determination to empower others through compassion. He is the Founder and President of Eagle Minds Matter, an organization that raises awareness and funds to advocate for those pressured by mental health stigma. Krish is leading conversations with members of the U.S. Congress and National Alliance on Mental Illness to create systemic reforms to behavioral healthcare. Krish is Captain of the debate team, President of Rotary Interact, and Editor-in-Chief of his school newspaper. His relentless commitment to service at Hilltop Suppers and at a medical clinic and Parkinson's disease research using artificial intelligence fuel his motivation to become a physician. Krish enjoys going on bike rides, gardening, and cooking.
Ria Shah is the founder of the United Ability Leadership Program, which mentors teens in serving people with disabilities. As her school's math Team, STEM team, and debate team captain, Ria encourages every student to indulge in academic endeavors. As a patient, a Spanish translator at her local urgent care, and an avid debater researching the effects of high drug prices, she has seen the harmful effects of our healthcare system from many perspectives. Thus, she hopes to inform policy decisions that propagate affordable medicine and medical services on a national level in her future. In her free time, Ria practices her lyrical acrobatics by rapping, enjoys playing tennis with her younger sister, and entertains with many bad dad-jokes.
Anya Shukla is the co-founder of The Colorization Collective, an organization that supports teen artists of color. She serves as the Seattle Center Racial Equity Cohort's sole youth representative and advocates for arts accessibility as the president of the TeenTix youth board. Anya is coding a game to illustrate healthcare disparities at the Institute for Systems Biology and assists with avian lumbosacral organ research at the University of Washington. She is the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, and her writing has been recognized nationally by The New York Times and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career that combines STEM and the humanities.
Clarks Summit, PA
Sarah Siddiqui is the President of her chapter of PERIOD, a nonprofit devoted to achieving menstrual equity, and was a lead organizer for PA's National Period Day rally in 2019. With a passion for health policy, Sarah was invited to the PA State Capitol and regularly works with PA legislators to pass menstrual health bills. At the highly-selective PA Governor's School for the Sciences, she pursued her interest in the biomedical sciences by studying and co-authoring a research article on DNA's structure and genome editing implications. Supporting underserved communities, Sarah volunteers as an ESL tutor for refugees. Sarah serves as Student Government Vice President, and she is President of her debate team, competing at the National level.
Nick strives to make his school community a more diverse and inclusive space through serving as co-president of his school's Student Equity Advisory and MENA Affinity group, as well as his founding of a First Generation College Students Association and participation in the planning of a multi-school diversity conference. Additionally, he has co-founded the service organization, Vision, which has provided over fifty restorative eyesight surgeries to underserved patients in rural India, and advocated for the rights of migrants, inspired by his mother who came to the US as an asylum seeker. A captain of his school's varsity volleyball team, Nick loves to stay active and is excited to study Ethnicity, Race, and Migration at Yale University.
Shaker Heights, OH
Kynnedy Smith is a gospel jazz violinist with ten years of music study. She is the founder of a nonprofit, I Art Cleveland, whose mission is to provide access to arts education, programming, and funding to underserved youth. A true STEMinist, Kynnedy is a Pioneer Academics Research Scholar studying predictive analytics and digital mapping, and she has studied machine learning at MIT. At school, Kynnedy is the Co-Leader of the Black Student Union, a Diversity Council Leader, and recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Award. She volunteers as a Youth Leader for the City Club of Cleveland Youth Forum, Cleveland Mayor's Office of Sustainability, and the Cleveland Playhouse Square. Kynnedy will attend Columbia University and major in computer science.
Coeur d'Alene, ID
Lilian is passionate about addressing inequality in public education and fostering student leadership. She co-founded Growing the STEM, a nonprofit that inspires underrepresented students through after school STEM programs. She has successfully advocated for student advisory councils to her local and state boards of education and has published Op-Eds in the LA Times & CDA Press. Lilian loves serving her school as senior class president, captain of the varsity cross country team, Model UN Club founder, and student chair of the $20M school levy campaign. She has interned for two summers at a melanoma research lab at Johns Hopkins and is a server at Abi's Ice Cream. Lilian aspires to a career in public education policy and leadership.
Gabriella Staykova is passionate about education justice and public policy. She serves as the Legislative Coordinator of the Kentucky Student Voice Team, a youth-led education equity nonprofit. Through her organizing, Kentucky allocated $7.4 million to lower the student-to-counselor ratio from 461:1 to 450:1. She also serves as a Quantitative Lead on the team's Coping with COVID Study in partnership with the University of Kentucky and storytelling programs coordinator at Student Voice (a national education nonprofit). At school, Gabriella is French Honor Society President, French Club Vice President, and a member of the Speech and Debate Team. She will study political science at the University of Louisville.
As Student Body President, Best Buddies President, National Honor Society Vice President, District 6/Key Club Communications Specialist, and Swim Team Captain, Alexandria has volunteered thousands of hours and has raised thousands of dollars to serve others. Ardently acting as the liaison, she has built a bridge of inclusion between the student body and those with special needs. She has played a key role in the inception of other Best Buddies chapters in the district. She procured the funding and installed 30+ dog bag stations to raise community awareness of the environmental impact of dog waste. Accepted into USC's Chan Division of Occupational Therapy accelerated program, she plans to dedicate her life to serving those with disabilities.
Los Altos, CA
Nikki Suzani is a student journalist with a passion for advocacy. As the Chair of her Congresswoman's Student Advisory Board, she leads 86 peers in tackling climate change and has written policy recommendations to improve mental health services in schools. As Director of PR for Wave Learning Festival, she works to increase educational equity by providing out-of-the-box seminars, tutoring, and events to over 13,000 students. Through other ventures, she's helped to combat sexism in high school debate, improve COVID-19 precautions within local jails, create a resource guide to reduce parolee recidivism rates, and teach business development tools to young women entrepreneurs. In her free time, Nikki enjoys playing Among Us and drinking tea.
Saint Michael, MN
Cobin Szymanski is the Research and Education Director at Beyond Resolved 501(c)(3), working to increase access and inclusivity within competitive speech and debate. In addition, they are nationally competitive in both Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas Debate, being ranked as high as 7th in the nation. They also work with United States Climate Strike and OutFront Minnesota. When volunteering, they spend most of their time developing the Great River Regional Library's Summer Reading Program, working to further improve literacy skills in their community. In their free time, they enjoy backpacking, birdwatching, kickboxing, trading stocks, and watching international films! They plan on majoring in International Relations or Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Leah Tadese is the Co-President of the Bexley Anti-Racism Project, an organization focused on diversifying the community and bringing awareness to implicit biases. From National Honor Society Vice President to Cross-Country and Track & Field Captain, Leah's leadership positions are both numerous and impressive. Underlying each of Leah's passions is her dedication to improving the global community. In particular, she strives to assist in the delivery of high-quality health care to developing countries and address the social and systemic forces causing these inequities. This fall, Leah plans on attending Harvard University, where she will concentrate in Molecular and Cellular Biology with hopes to pursue a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon.
As his school's first Black male Valedictorian, author of Thriving In My Own Lane, and founder of his school's first peer tutoring organization called EPIC, Da'Vion pushes to emphasize equitable learning opportunities and social reform. Da'Vion is President of his school's first African American Cultural Awareness Group (AACAG), an organization that teaches true African history and promotes curricular inclusivity. As Class President, NHS Vice-President, and Student Council Secretary, Da'Vion utilizes his platform to advocate on behalf of his peers. Da'Vion yearns to become a Physician and forge an interdisciplinary career at the intersection of Engineering, Medicine, and Law, aiming to spearhead advancements in both scientific innovation and social justice.
Peter is a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe on the Akwesasne Indian Reservation. A dedicated activist, he has participated in conferences and summits bringing awareness to the role Indigeneity plays within climate change mitigation. He represented the Haudenosaunee Youth Delegation to the United Nations Youth Climate Action Summit. Additionally, Peter spoke on a panel at the Nature Conservancy and as a keynote speaker at the Intertribal Agriculture Council Annual Conference and The National Tribal Leadership Climate Change Summit. He played Varsity Soccer, Swimming, and Lacrosse. He was a 4x medalist at the North American Indigenous Games while swimming for Team Eastern Door & North. He will study Biological Engineering at Cornell University.
Saint Paul, MN
With an eagerness to learn, Diamond Thlang has passions that lie in education, youth voice, and STEM. In education, he has been extensively involved in successful efforts to incorporate a high school ethnic studies curriculum in his school district. In the umbrella of youth voice, he serves on city and regional boards like the St. Paul Youth Commission and the Student Engagement and Advancement Board to implement long-term strategies that give youth increased agency in policy and decision-making. Lastly, in STEM, he has conducted research at the University of Minnesota on bromodomain inhibitors as therapeutic targets. He is considering attending Stanford, Yale, or Carnegie Mellon and will double major in Data Science and Sociology.
San Diego, CA
Emily Tianshi is a STEM enthusiast and environmental advocate passionate about impacting her community. She invented an atmospheric moisture harvesting device that was featured in a National Geographic documentary series on water conservation and has been recognized by the Davidson Fellows Scholarship, ISEF, NJSHS, US Stockholm Junior Water Prize, Broadcom MASTERS, and International Children's Climate Prize. Emily led and co-founded several organizations, including Clearwater Innovation, which encourages students to conduct environmental research from home labs. Emily also debates on the Public Forum National Circuit, plays Varsity Golf and Basketball, has competed in FIRST robotics since 2014, and performed a piano solo at Carnegie Hall.
At the age of seventeen, Brittany Torro enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard as a 31B Military Police Offer and spent the summer of 2020 graduating Basic Combat Training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Brittany participates in monthly Recruit Sustainment Drills at Camp Curtis Guild and will spend an additional three months in Missouri before starting her first semester as a freshman at the College of Art and Science at Boston University. As President of National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society and Treasurer of SkillsUSA Leadership Team, Brittany is responsible for coordinating a majority of her school's community service projects that include Lucy's Love Bus, Adopt a Solider, and Be Like Brit.
Julie works to strengthen her Vietnamese American community by empowering kids and young adults through the Giao Xu Cac Thanh Tu Dao Vietnamese Dance Program she founded. Julie is a Hamilton Scholar, Horatio Alger National Scholar, and Hugh O' Brien Youth Leadership ambassador. She volunteers at orphanages in Vietnam and in the Plastic Surgery department at the Univ. of Texas Medical Branch, accumulating 800+ hours. She's Yearbook Editor-in-Chief, Student Council Executive Secretary, co-founded her school's Science Olympiad, and initiated San Jacinto College's first dual credit social. Julie teaches Vietnamese and is a translator for the Houston Elections Department. She'll major in Asian Studies and Cell Biology & Genetics at Rice University.
San Antonio, TX
Combining medical advocacy and art, Izumi and her sister created a 2,000 origami paper crane pediatric cancer awareness installation for University Hospital. In addition to her extensive summer hospital volunteering, she has since worked with the Get Well Network to share origami with bedridden patients. At Rudder Middle School, she mentors minority youth in performing water analysis, bird watching, and invertebrate collection at Guadalupe River State Park. She is also a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar and empowers FGLI students to pursue higher education. In college, Izumi plans to study Human Biology and History while expanding her "Cranes for a Cause" Initiative, and combat health disparities in medically underserved areas.
Sahaj Vederey is the Founder and CEO of Melodious Productions, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational resources and empowering children to break through stereotypes by running clubs, competitions, and events. As part of the organization, he has raised over $230,000 and has reached 17,000 children across the world in India, Africa, London, and America. He will graduate from Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology, where he is the Vice President of Anglers' Alliance, advocating for environmental stewardship, marine conservation, and student advocacy. Sahaj will be attending the University of Chicago, where he intends to study Economics and Computer Science. In his free time, Sahaj loves to bake, read, and spend time with his friends.
When not tending to her backyard farm, Claire Vlases works to promote sustainability in her community. In 7th grade, Claire raised over $120,000 for solar panels on schools Since then, she has helped write and promote solar legislation. She is the youngest council member appointed to plan the sustainable development of her town to meet the needs of the Paris Accord. After making a podcast exposing the problems in Montana's English Learner (EL) education system, Claire is currently working on legislation to provide State funding for ELs. Keep an eye on the status of her ongoing lawsuit against the State of Montana for its unconstitutional promotion of fossil fuels!
Katherine Wong's fascination for the sciences and enthusiasm for creativity has prompted her to constantly embrace interdisciplinary outlooks. As Founder and President of STEM THE ART, she advocates for the intersection between the arts and sciences by teaching lessons and donating 1800+ distance learning packages to schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other organizations globally. In addition, she serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Hominum Journal and Team Captain of Discovery Cube OC's volunteer program. She is also passionate about public health and hopes to work towards reducing health disparities in the future. In her free time, Katherine enjoys writing speculative fiction and poetry, along with playing the piano.
At the age of eleven, Lindsey Wood founded "Bows That Bless", a ministry in which she makes and sells hair bows to raise funds for foster families. Inspired by her friend who was adopted through foster care, she has dedicated her life to serving foster families through her ministry and with her future career in trauma-informed pediatric dentistry. She has made over 10,000 hair bows and donated of over $12,000 to foster care agencies in Alabama. By partnering with local businesses and through the internet, she has advanced Bows That Bless across the United States. Lindsey believes everyone must do their part to lift up the foster children in their communities and to break the taboo nature of this topic. She will be attending the University of Alabama in the fall.
Serenitie Woodard is currently a Certified Nursing Assistant with a passion for helping others. She aspires to be a Nurse Practitioner with a Masters Degree. She is the second eldest child of fourteen siblings, and will be the first person in her family to graduate high school, much less to go college. She believes that helping others is above all, and has continuously helped many in her community and in her household. She is involved in countless activities including Band, Choir, Theatre, Student Council, National Honor Society, and countless other roles in which she is held in high regard. In fall 2020, she will attend Carl Albert State College to become the first milestone in her career, a Registered Nurse.
Cosette Wu founded the Scleroderma and Fibrotic Diseases Foundation, an international nonprofit fostering patient-to-patient connections that has reached over 10,000 people. Passionate about promoting understanding of Taiwan and the 228 Massacre, she authored "The Story of Shih Jiangnan," a biography of her great-grandfather, a 228 Massacre victim. At school, she is Editor-in-Chief of the Oahuan yearbook. A 10-year tennis player, she has represented her state in National Championships and led the #2 high school team in the nation as team captain and #1 singles player. A 13-year pianist, she has placed 3rd in the American Protégé International Piano & Strings Competition and performed at Carnegie Hall. Cosette plans to attend Harvard College.
Brian Xu is the founder of Students Tutor Students, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to tackling the shortcomings of the education system through the power of student involvement. Passionate about politics and advocacy, he is the Oregon Mayor in the Junior State of America, Finance Director for the Oregon Youth Climate Strike, and a team member of Of The People, a web platform that connects citizens to candidates. He started his school's first-ever civics program and has supported civics bills in the Oregon State Legislature. Additionally, he is an avid STEM student, having qualified for the USA Math, Physics, and Chemistry Olympiads. In the future, he plans to study math and government and has dreams in academia and public office.
Abigail's Sustainable Hunger Initiative (SHI) has engaged 7,500+ at-risk youth in experiential learning promoting healthy lifestyles, donated 45,000+ pounds of diverse foods for 600+ underserved families, and garnered $50,000+ in grant funds towards its sustainable Community Gardens providing access to fresh produce, hands-on education, and civic engagement for 10,000+ local residents. She also volunteers regularly for a nonprofit called Love A Sea Turtle (LAST). Along with helping to raise $65,000 and leading recruitment and outreach for LAST, she mentors other youth sharing her passions for community, global health, and social justice. Abigail is also a US Cellular Future of Good $10,000 Grant Winner and a national Carson Scholar.
Hanan Yousuf's efforts in hunger-relief raised food for hundreds of families across her metroplex and co-founded the food pantry she runs at her school. With her duties as PR specialist for the nonprofit Learn In Shelter, Hanan works with schools and nonprofits in Texas and Oklahoma to close the educational gap across socioeconomic classes. Hanan manages over eighty students as captain of her school's nationally recognized mock trial program where she teaches classes to new members and sets up tutoring networks. She also mentors and provides social and emotional support to incoming students. Hanan hopes to study international policy and pursue a career in the legal field where she can continue to impact those around her.
Rayan Yu launches innovative tech ventures. Rayan cofounded his nonprofit inGenius,creating edtech softwares to reach 65.3k users worldwide with 40 million visits, raising thousands for charity, winning the Diamond Challenge, and receiving recognition from Yahoo News, Congress, his governor, etc. Rayan has published his AI research at ACM conferences, and cofounded his school's Machine Learning Club by acquiring a $2.5k Northrop Grumman sponsorship. Rayan leads two other clubs and is also a Prudential Spirit of Community State Honoree. As Virginia's #1 ranked policy debater and a 2x NCFL Nationals Finalist, Rayan enjoys debate and philosophy for fun. Rayan will attend UPenn's Jerome Fisher M&T Program for a Wharton and CS dual degree.
Bill Zhang is the Founder and Executive Director of DementiAid, a global organization tackling social isolation and funding shortages in underserved nursing homes. To date, DementiAid has engaged over 250 volunteers and raised over $15,000 in funds and in-kind donations. Bill also serves on the Alzheimer's Congressional Team of Congressman Chris Smith, working closely with the district office to coordinate advocacy campaigns and secure legislative victories. He's a TD Bank Young Hero and an NJ Governor's School in the Sciences Scholar. Passionate about social justice and health equity, Bill hopes to solve global public health challenges through science and policy. In his free time, he enjoys biking and playing basketball with his friends.
San Jose, CA
Michael Zhao is a passionate community leader applying STEM in service of society. As an FBLA National Officer, he led 5,000+ FBLA chapters in raising $350,000+ for March of Dimes. Michael serves as his school's Student Body President and as Chair of Santa Clara Valley Water District's Youth Commission, where he leads youth civic engagement and water conservation initiatives. He also founded Silicon Valley STEM 4 Youth, which works to expand equity in STEM education. Having been recognized in the Top 8 of the USA Biology Olympiad and as California's alternate delegate to the U.S. Senate Youth Program, Michael plans to attend Harvard, Yale, or MIT to study biology and government, pursuing a career in public service to lead the fight for more equitable healthcare.
Joseph Zhong is the founder and director of Joy of Music, a grass-root volunteering organization dedicated to providing music education to underserved communities around the world. Through hosting cultural events such as Omaha One Community Culture Festival, Joseph engages his community in open dialogue about diversity. As the National Youth Leadership Council of Roots and Shoots' Midwest Representative, he leads efforts in combating climate change, promoting sustainability, and hosting voter registrations. When Joseph is not leading the Math Honor Society and the economics team, he conducts cybersecurity research in the realm of IoT through penetration-testing sensor connections. A true artist at heart, Joseph reads, writes, and composes.
Impassioned about employing technology to solve social justice issues, Annie Zhu co-programmed the award-winning Fresh Hub app to combat food inequity, as well as math games to close gaps in education. She also served on the Houston Mayor's Youth Council and the Go Neighborhood's Steering Committee, initiating the construction of learning landscapes. Since Annie wished to empower her classmates, she established the Future Problem Solvers (FPS) Club at her school. As the co-coach, she led her team to placing first at the FPS Internationals twice. As the president of Bellaire's Girls Who Code, she coordinated a global hackathon. Annie, who loves spontaneous dancing and sewing gifts for friends, plans to major in Symbolic Systems at Stanford.
Aris Zhu is the founder of Unidos Tutoring and president of National Spanish Honor Society, providing personalized learning resources to Latin American immigrant high school students to help them graduate. Additionally, Aris is part of the three-time Arizona state championship Academic Decathlon team; she captained two of those wins. She is also Arizona's Distinguished Young Woman, helping other young women develop interpersonal skills and celebrate their accomplishments. Furthermore, Aris's science research projects have been showcased by international science fair competitions and conferences. In her free time, she loves to bike without her hands and watch Arizona sunsets. In Fall 2021, Aris will attend Harvard University.
Rebecca Zhu is a researcher, mobile app developer, economist, and STEMinist. Passionate about using CS for social good, she is coding a website for Care International to help workers in the garment industry in Asia respond to sexual harassment. She has authored research papers on using machine learning to tackle healthcare and cybersecurity challenges. As captain of her school's economics quiz bowl team, she was the 2019 Harvard Pre-Collegiate Economics Challenge winner. She founded Coding Scouts, a program to teach middle school Girl Scouts how to code websites, memes, and games. In her free time, she enjoys working out and spending time with her friends and family. She is considering attending Yale or Columbia to study CS and economics.
Shirley Zhu, co-founder of Fresh Hub, is dedicated to battling food waste and food deserts. Fresh Hub has rescued 15,200 lbs of food, serving 1,900 Houstonians. An NCWIT Aspirations in Computing National Winner and USA Computing Olympiad Gold Division programmer, Shirley strives to use code to amplify social services. She built the Fresh Hub app with a team to increase resources for clients. Shirley also created Project Untold, sharing stories of marginalized groups through art and writing. As a Bank of America Student Leader, Shirley storybanked for the Wesley Community Center, and she is currently a webmaster for the Rice University School Mathematics Project. In her spare time, Shirley enjoys solving crosswords, crocheting, and painting.
Van Nuys, CA
Marcus is committed to civic engagement. He serves on his city's neighborhood council, where he created peer mentoring and tutoring networks to assist underserved students at multiple schools and led volunteer programs providing grocery/medication deliveries to hundreds of vulnerable homebound neighbors during the pandemic. He's also a member of several Mayor's Youth Councils, where he's created programs to provide hygiene kits to the homeless and developed grassroots campaigns to combat climate change. He advocates for public education reforms as a representative to his local school board and advises his peers as a columnist with his community's newspaper. Marcus seeks a career in public service and will likely study economics at Stanford.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation celebrates and empowers visionary leaders who are refreshing the world. With its 33rd class of Coca-Cola Scholars, the Foundation has provided more than $75 million in scholarships to over 6,450 program alumni who together have become a powerful force for positive change. Learn more about how to become a Coke Scholar here.