NextStepU is proud to announce the winners of Super Teens 2012!
These extraordinary teens stood out from hundreds of applicants by taking on leadership roles, overcoming adversity or demonstrating dedication and perseverance. We are pleased to honor their accomplishments by sharing their stories with you! Congratulations to our Super Teens!
Graham Ashby, a junior at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, Idaho has started her own charitable project called “Friends Through Books,” and has donated hundreds of new and gently used books to underprivileged children on the Caribbean island, Carriacou. Ashby also spent months of hard work raising money for a student who desperately needed eye surgery and continued to fundraise to collect more books and school supplies.
Outside of her self-run charity, Ashby is part of her school’s Key Club, won first place in anatomy for the state of Idaho in the National Science Olympiad and is a member of the Junior National Honor Society.
Chesterton High School senior Nicholas Borzych of Chesterton, Ind. has dedicated much of his time to sports. Borzych is an All-American swimmer (placing 2nd at sectionals); he created and maintains the official website for his swim team and he is also a commentator for various sporting events through his school’s radio station. His experience as a commentator inspired him to start a sports medicine program and earned him the title of Sports Director for the 2011-2012 school year.
Despite struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder, Borzych has been able to maintain a 3.48 GPA and hopes to attend Saint Cloud University in Minnesota to pursue his passion for weather in the field of meteorology.
“I consider myself a self-starter,” says sophomore Christine Catlin from Mounds View Senior High School in Arden Hills, Minn. “Someone who sets my own goals and rises to meet them.”
Catlin is a published author with two completed novels and appeared in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Teenagers.” She also participates in cross-country and track, the Roseville Midway Speed Skating Club and Minneapolis Rowing Club. She has earned a sponsorship for running from New Balance and has set a goal to participate in a charity run in every state (she has done six so far!). She also volunteers with an organization called “We Can Ride,” a horse therapy program for disabled children.
“I am overflowing with drive and determination,” says Chloe Choe, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way, Wash.
Choe is involved in USA Biology Olympiad (which she co-founded) and “Blooming Youth Volunteers,” an organization which she founded that helps students reach their academic goals through counseling and tutoring. She is involved in her school’s tennis and swim teams and was elected student body treasurer two years running. Choe participates in the math team Mu Alpha Theta, for which she has continually achieved top honors and awards for her participation.
She hopes to major in biomedical sciences at Stanford University.
Dancing has always been a passion for Maggie Elizabeth Ellington, a senior from Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga. Not only has she performed in a local 16-show run of “The Nutcracker,” she also traveled to Austria at the age of 14 where she performed with three other local dancers on her 11-day trip.
Ellington also participates in track and field, maintains her honor roll status, volunteers as a youth leader at her church and is co-president of dance club. Despite her unconventional ballerina stature (she is 6’1”!), Ellington hopes to use her skills in dance to audition for and be accepted into a professional dance company.
“I have learned that it is crucial to use my time and talents to help others,” says Megan Ferry, a senior at Lake Norman Charter High School in Denver, N.C.
Ferry is an English as a Second Language tutor for elementary students, a Vacation Bible School volunteer and participates in various volunteer activities for her school and church. She also is very active in her school, participating in the Science Olympiad, Key Club, pre-med club and drama club, and playing the clarinet in concert and pep bands. Ferry has also participated in both the regional and state competitions for swimming and influenced her school to implement a women’s-only golf team after years of being coed.
Jacquelyn Garcia, a senior from Moorestown Friends School in Lumberton, N.J. has to balance her time as both a full-time student and full-time athlete. Garcia is a member of the United States Figure Skating Association who participates in freestyle skating and is a member the Philadelphia Symmetry Synchronized Skating Team who are currently ranked 11th in the nation.
Despite the intense dedication that skating requires of Garcia (taking up 19-22 hours per week), she also participates in her school’s online magazine The Kitchen Sink, poetry club, as a tutor in the writing center and is a member of the blanket club, which crafts blankets for ill New Jersey children.
Callie Graham, a junior C.E. Byrd Math/Science Magnet in Shreveport, La., knows the “importance of volunteering to help others who are less fortunate.”
Her mother, who sadly lost her battle to breast cancer this year, encouraged Graham to give back to her community; she has done so through her work with organizations like Northwest Louisiana Food Bank, Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission and Meals on Wheels. She has received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for the past three years and was featured on a local billboard for her dedication to volunteering.
Graham is also involved at school, participating in the Astra Service Club, National Honor Society, student advisory committee and is section editor of the “Gusher” yearbook.
West Brownsville, Pa. native and California Area High School senior Cody Lambert is a talented athlete.He plays football, soccer and track at school, has been recognized as the U.S. Air Force Football Player of the Week and helped lead his soccer team to their first WPIAL Section Championship.
He is also involved with several school clubs, including vice president of SADD, student council secretary and National Honor Society. He was appointed to the Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation (which encourages environmental conservation), was an Assistant Team Leader for the Wildfire Leadership Academy and was the NRA’s Youth Education Summit 2011 Nationalist.
“No progress in this world will be made without people who truly think big and take action,” says Esther Lee, a senior from Chaska High School in Chaska, Minn.
Lee founded the organization “Circle of Sisters” to empower and encourage girls to pursue further education, created the International Girls Council to connect and mobilize members of Circle of Sisters worldwide and is planning a Girl’s Empowerment Council in her hometown.
Lee has been recognized as a member of the Minnesota Youth Council and was invited as one of only eight youth to participate in a Youth Roundtable with President Barack Obama. Her ultimate goal is to become a diplomat and help empower women on a global scale.
Rachel Ley is a freshman at PJ Jacobs Junior High School in Stevens Point, Wis. who has made her mission in volunteering a top priority.
At the age of 12, she started a project called “Literacy for Little Ones,” which supplies new parents with a package of books to encourage lifelong literacy and has currently reached over 1,500 families. Her community service has earned her recognition as one of 10 teens selected for generationOn’s National Youth Advisory Council, as well as for DoSomething’s Youth Advisory Council.
Ley also participates in the forensics team, plays on the tennis and soccer teams, performs in the orchestra and concert choir and was elected as student government president.
Holmdel High School senior Bowen Lu of Holmdel, N.J. is the captain of varsity track team, president of National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society and vice president of student council at his school.
He also implemented “Paper Cranes for Japan” at his high school, helping to fund relief for the people of Japan following the 2011 earthquake. Poetry is also a passion for Lu, who has won the Live Poets Society’s National “Just Poetry!” contest and was named a finalist in the N.J. region “2 Poetry Out Loud” competition.
As a freshman, Lu was accepted into Columbia University’s Science Honors Program for talented high school students and received a research grant conducted at the University.
Sophomore Danielle Mackson of Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School of Miami, Fla. is a dedicated student, contributing to her school as vice president of her class. She is the business and ad editor and reporter for her school newspaper, The Lightning Strike, and is the writer and publisher of her own newsletter, Choices for Children, which informs struggling members of the community about free programs that can help improve their lives.
Mackson is the secretary of Invisible Children, which raises awareness about struggling children in Uganda, and a member of The Children’s Trust Youth Advisory Committee, which funds programs in the Miami-Dade County to improve the lives of children and their families.
Sierra Menzies, a senior at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Ga. is a student-athlete who has taken on leadership roles both in and out of school. She is the president of Teaching Advanced Leadership and Opening Networks (TALON), where she organized the school’s first annual powder puff football game and was also chosen as one of three students to participate in the Gwinnett Student Leadership Team.
Menzies also has a talent for basketball, and is ranked in the top 20 for the state of Georgia. She and her sister also started a community basketball camp for children in the community and use the funds acquired from the camp to purchase goods for local charities.
Jessie Pratt is a senior at New Glarus High School in New Glarus, Wis. who has achieved national recognition as the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America’s 2011-2012 National First Vice President of Finance. With FCCLA, she has met with congressmen and women to advocate for Perkins Funding, met with the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. and worked with various nonprofit organizations.
Pratt is also vice president of her student senate, a cross-country runner and a Tae Kwon Do instructor/first degree black belt. Pratt also has a passion for the German language, attending a four-week German language immersion camp, participating in the German American Partnership Program and hosting five exchange students from Germany.
“I work hard at everything I do whether it is academically or athletically,” says Abigail Schrum, a senior at Lebanon Catholic School in Lebanon, Pa.
Despite the fact that Schrum suffers from permanent hearing loss as a result of meningococcal meningitis she had as an infant, she chose to view her disability as “motivation in all aspects of life.” She is president of student council, involved in National Honor Society, varsity volleyball, varsity basketball, SADD, her school newspaper The Challenge and is editor in chief of her school yearbook. She is also captain of her school’s softball team and was named Lancaster-Lebanon League Section IV All Star as a 1st team pitcher her junior year.
Jordan Smith is a highly involved senior from Madison East High in Madison, Wis. who “feels very strongly about the importance of helping others.”
Smith participates in the Girl Scouts where she recently earned the prestigious Gold Award, that was given to her for her service as a spokesperson for the Service E Award at Madison East High School. Smith has also overcome her diagnosis of hydrocephalus — a condition where her brain retains excessive fluid — and despite going through five brain surgeries, she still manages to maintain a 3.93 GPA and has sparked her interest in attaining a college degree in biology, cognitive behavioral neuroscience or neuroscience with a concentration in biology.
Nicholas L. Tarleton, a senior at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy in Westchester, Ill. is involved in his school’s activities every day of the week, acting as communications representative of the Class of 2012 club and a member of student council, an editor of the yearbook club, head layout editor and staff writer for the newspaper club, student leader of Proviso United with Loyola Students for Educational Enrichment and Go Green club.
Tarleton received recognition for his volunteer work, earning the Cook County Sheriff’s Youth Service Medal of Honor Award. His experience in the Research Apprentice Program at the University of Illinois has encouraged him to seek a career in the food
“L’artiste, le savant, et l’industriel,” is a quote by Saint Simonian Olinde Rodrigues, which Kelsey L. Willcox, a sophomore from Conifer, Colo. enrolled in the Colorado Virtual Academy uses to describe herself as “the artist, the scientist and the entrepreneur.”
Willcox lives up to her inspiration through her participation in “The Starving Artist,” her self-started company where proceeds from her miniatures and jewelry go to local food banks and a surgical placement in India next summer through the Gap-Medics UK program.
Willcox participates in a number of other clubs through her online school including anime, art, debate, history, pre-med, forensic science and mathematics, as well as participating in student government as secretary.
Christopher Yao, a sophomore at Jericho Senior High School in Jericho, N.Y., founded the organization “Kids Change the World” with a mission to unite the youth generation to make the world a better place.
The organization, which has than 19,000 volunteers and supporters in 34 countries, has teamed up with “The Smile Train” and local surgeons to provide more than 60 cleft palate surgeries and helped establish the Daos Children’s Centre in Mombasa, Kenya for HIV/AIDS orphans and those affected by post-election violence.
Yao was named one of New York State’s top youth volunteers in the 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and was a recipient of 2011 Nestlé Very Best in Youth Award.