We sorted through hundreds of applications to choose the winners of our annual Super Teens contest.
The teens you’ll read about here are among the country’s brightest stars. We hope you agree!
Are you a Super Teen, too? Fill out an application at nextSTEPmag.com/SuperTeens, and maybe you’ll be on our cover next year!
Kayee Au from Cary, N.C., is an art-loving senior at William G. Enloe High School. Au is the founder of her school’s Design and Arts club, a charity organization that donates student arts and crafts to charitable causes. Au has illustrated two children’s books, is organizing and overseeing the completion of her school’s first mural, and has helped raise more than $1,500 for the Mariam Clinic through the Design and Arts Club. One of Au’s paintings also placed in the top 10 for a Sister Cities International contest. With pride and confidence in Au’s work, the town of Cary asked her to present the painting to Mary Jean Eisenhower. In the future, Au aspires to earn a job in animation.
Emilio Camu from Salt Lake City, Utah, is an involved senior at Cottonwood High School. Camu has donated his time to several clubs and organizations, in addition to holding officer positions in several of them. “I have a passion for everything I do! I won’t do or complete anything halfheartedly,” says Camu. One particular organization in which Camu is involved is Teen Advocates Against Tobacco (TAAT). Camu’s work with TAAT has enabled him to stick up for what he believes. “I learned to fight for my beliefs in a calm, rational way—in a way not many people do anymore,” says Camu. He plans to attend Stanford University.
“I am passionate about making an impact on my local and global communities,” says Drake Corbin of Hoschton, Ga. Corbin, a freshman at Jackson County Comprehensive High School, founded and now chairs “Y Not Me ‘4’ A Change,” a youth organization that empowers young people to help out within their communities. “We conduct several drives each year: Socks ‘4’ Seniors, Jeans ‘4’ Teens, Kare Kitz ‘4’ Kidz, and Books ‘4’ Babies,” Corbin says. “This year, we are going global by teaming up with AfricAid to collect school supplies for girls’ schools in Tanzania.” Corbin enjoys watching his peers take action. “It has been absolutely amazing watching their collection efforts,” he says.
“I wanted to establish a court of the Junior Catholic Daughters of the Americas in my local parish,” says Ariana Frontario, a senior at St. Anthony’s High School from Northport, N.Y. After reviewing the charter, bylaws, learning the steps to establish a court in her parish, and educating her community on its significance, Frontario was able to establish Court Ave Maria #832 in June. “I am also proud to say that I am the president of this organization,” says Frontario. In school, Frontario also makes time for National Honor Society, cross country and jazz band.
“I felt very passionate about helping this charity and raising awareness for it, and knew I could do much more with the support of my peers than on my own,” says Rose Gunson about her involvement with the charity Operation Smile. Gunson, a senior at Sammamish High School from Bellevue, Wash., was passionate about the organization and determined to start the club at her own school. Gunson is also enthusiastic about filmmaking. She won a national filmmaking contest and will be working with a team of other teen filmmakers this summer to help make Usher’s newest music video in Los Angeles.
Angela Hernandez, originally from Colombia, is a junior at Munford High School in Munford, Ala. Hernandez offers her bilingual talents whenever she can. “Our youth group at church decided to go to Brooklyn, N.Y., where we helped a church by cleaning, painting and giving out food,” Hernandez says. “Brooklyn is a Spanish-speaking neighborhood, and I acted as a leader by helping my peers with the language.” Hernandez has also traveled to Jamaica to volunteer with an orphanage, and is always sure to bring back clothes and toys on her visits to Colombia. At school, her activities include student government, Key Club and yearbook.
Tabatha Holley of Dawson, Ga., a sophomore, is project chair for student council at Terrell Middle High School. She is also a member of the county youth advisory board. Recently, Holley worked on a project dedicated to renovating a building to be used as a teen center. Holley says that her involvement with the NAACP Youth Council has had the greatest impact on her life. “It has taught me to stand for something or fall for anything. It has taught me to not talk about something, but better yet, be about it,” says Holley. Holley’s future plans include attending college for a degree in political science.
Jameson Kuang, a senior at St. Joseph Academy in St. Augustine, Fla., is a regular pianist and accompanist at his local church’s music ministry in Palm Coast, Fla. “I’m an optimist at heart, and I reach people through music,” says Kuang. His experience at The Schlern International Music Festival in the Italian Alps ranks among his life’s best experiences. He is currently involved in National Honor Society, Hispanic NHS, Mu Alpha Theta, and is valedictorian. Kuang hopes to become a doctor in internal medicine, but doesn’t plan on giving up music.
“Something that I take the most pride in is my work with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation,” says Connie Lim, a senior at Newport High School from Bellevue, Wash. The Alliance’s mission is to fight childhood obesity. Lim is one of 23 members on the youth advisory board, and she has spoken about the cause to Radio Disney, The Boys and Girls Club, and at a children’s hospital obesity summit. “I want to continue this service by pursuing a career in the global health field and becoming a doctor so that I can provide medical care in Third World countries,” says Lim.
Clay McMullen, a sophomore at West Geauga High School from Chesterland, Ohio, is receiving national recognition for his dedication to the preservation of Ohio’s wetlands. After learning about the destruction and significance of Ohio’s wetlands, McMullen, along with a group of friends, founded Wetlands Education Team (WET). McMullen and WET have dedicated their time to educate more than 6,000 kids and have raised more than $78,000 to help give Ohio’s wetlands a more promising future. Meanwhile, McMullen still makes time for school activities, including the robotics team, football, golf, fencing, Science Olympiad, Latin club and serving as student council class president.
Sally Nelson of Moores Hill, Ind., is a member of Eta Sigma Alpha (National Home School Honor Society); captain of Truth Advocates Debate Club; founder, lead editor, designer and coordinator of her cooperative home school group’s yearbook; and has even volunteered in Kenya. “My family was able to live for about a year and three months in Nairobi, Kenya,” explains Nelson. Nelson’s time was spent playing games with the children and teaching them English. The experience greatly impacted her life. “I saw horrible suffering and indescribable pain,” she says. “But I also saw hope.” Nelson plans to attend college for a degree in political science.
Being involved in Math Honor Society, Key Club and Latin Club at Florida State University School are just a few of Sana Ozair’s extracurricular activities. Ozair, a senior from Tallahassee, Fla., also volunteers much of her time to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Ozair has been able to work with arthritis patients as an assistant to a rheumatology specialist. “Volunteering at the hospital and doctor’s offices were unique and unforgettable experiences,” says Ozair. She hopes to attend a university and major in biological sciences.
Kierra Peak’s volunteerism and leadership roles are clear indicators of her generous and driven character. “For the last two summers, I have been a Red Cross volunteer at the Red Cross in Womack’s Army Medical Center,” says Peak, a senior at Reid Ross Classical School from Fayetteville, N.C. Peak also volunteers as an usher at her local theater and is a certified peer mediator at her school. She is also a member of Science Olympiad, where she placed in a statewide competition, and is president of her school’s National Honor Society chapter.
“When I began high school, I wanted to become involved in some way… I looked for something that would give me a rewarding experience as well as a sense of making a difference,” says I. Mariana Ramirez V., a senior from Schaller-Crestland High School from Schaller, Iowa. Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, Ramirez helped a timid and shy “little sister” become a confident young woman. She also volunteers frequently with the St. Paul Lutheran Church and has received recognition for her leadership and volunteerism. She was awarded the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award in 2007 and 2009, as well as an honorable mention at the Iowa Character Counts awards banquet in 2009.
Katelynn Rathbun, from Palm Coast, Fla., is a highly involved senior at Matanzas High School. While working in a Laundromat, Rathbun saw the amount of water, gas and electricity used to run the business. Rathbun, an environmental activist, convinced her employer to switch to biodegradable detergents, bring in recycling bins, and encourage customers to reuse their wire hangers. “I learned that simple changes can truly inspire others to work towards the betterment of our surroundings,” says Rathbun. She is involved with Interact Club, National Honor Society, art club, and is a volunteer at her local hospital and Marineland.
Antonio Roberts from Alexandria, La., is a senior and valedictorian at Peabody Magnet High School. He maintains a full schedule and advanced classes in addition to earning numerous awards for his academic success, leadership and community involvement. As a teen counselor at the City of Alexandria Teen Activity Center, Roberts was accepting and understanding of others’ challenges, and learned the significance of patience, determination and teamwork. Roberts’ grandmother has had the greatest impact on his life. “She sacrifices daily to meet our basic needs,” says Roberts. “Despite my challenges, I know who I am, and I am confident of where I am going!”
When three of Mike Ruane’s aunts were diagnosed with cancer, he and his cousin, Erika Rech, set out to found Breast Friends Forever, a nonprofit organization for breast cancer patients. A senior at Middletown High School North from Belford, N.J., Ruane and his cousin have raised more than $100,000 for their cause. Their organization is unique. “Unlike most breast cancer charities, we are not raising money for the cure; we are raising money for people who need help now,” says Ruane. He plans to attend college to become an engineer.
Amber Shamburger, a junior in Richmond Hill, N.Y., attends The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens. She has participated in Teens for Planet Earth for four years and is enrolled in a two-year college course at the Museum of Natural History. Shamburger was also accepted into the Clearwater program, which had her living on a sailboat for a week to learn the basics of running a boat. Her true passion is with animals. “Over the summer I volunteered at the McDonough Animal Hospital in Georgia for a month,” she says. “This experience gave me the assurance that I truly want to be a veterinarian.”
For Gabriela Soto, a senior at Dr. Phillips High School from Orlando, Fla., dance is a passion that has offered her many opportunities. Soto is a member of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA). Recently, she received a Royal Memorial Modern Scholarship at the Florida Dance Masters Convention. She has maintained leadership roles as the rehearsal director for her school’s magnet program, and as the president and choreographer of NHSDA. Soto’s commitment to dance has earned her awards, including a scholarship to the Virginia School of the Arts Summer Intensive, and a Bravo and a Future Star Award at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.
Chrisjaan Whitson from Indianapolis, Ind., is a senior at Cathedral High School who is dedicated to helping others. Whitson is a founding member of the Starfish Initiative/Kiwanis Key Club. The Starfish Initiative Dollars for Scholars Fund raises scholarship money for economically disadvantaged high school students. “In June 2009, the first year of awarding scholarships, I was stunned to learn that I helped raise over $20,000!” says Whitson. Whitson also volunteers with the Special Olympics, is enrolled in AP courses, and is an honor student. Whitson hopes to study law and earn a degree in psychology.