Calling all Super Teens!
We have a surprise we've been bursting to share with you! Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, Super Teens will now be featured in EVERY ISSUE. That's right! Each issue will feature amazing students all across the country.
Don't wait to enter the contest! Nominate yourself, a friend or a student (if you are a counselor). Super Teens are chosen based on their responses to the following questions:
PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
- What subject do you excel most in at school? Is it also your favorite subject?
- What activity outside of school are you most proud of?
- What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in your life and how did you overcome it?
- What would you say is your greatest achievement or something that you’ve done that you are most proud of?
- Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that makes you unique.
- What do you plan to major in and what do you want to do after you graduate?
- Why do you think YOU should be selected as one of our Super Teens?
It's that easy! E-mail your responses along with a picture of yourself* to Editor@NextStepU.com. We are currently selecting our September/October issue Super Teens. Apply today and you could be featured this fall!
Best of luck!
*Entries sent without a picture will be disqualified.
Super Teen Winners
At NextStepU, we love to recognize teens who do "super" things! That’s why we feature a select few in every issue who stand out from the crowd and go the extra mile. Meet our Super Teens!
"I'm proud about being a positive role model and mentor for girls through my STEM educational activities,” says Sophia, a junior at Sir Francis Drake High School in California. "I think girls are more likely to consider pursuing science or technology if they see other girls involved.”
A strong advocate for science, Sophia has participated in a number of activities in this field, including volunteering over 200 hours at the Galaxy Explorers mentoring program at Chabot Space and Science Center and volunteering as an Astronomy Program Assistant at Mount Tamalpais State Park.
Sophia aims to make a difference in her school, her community and in the science and technology field at large. She has submitted articles on light pollution (an issue she hopes to remedy) to local newsletters and created her own pamphlet in order to make more people aware. Her efforts won her the George and Edythe Taylor Student Award from the International Dark-Sky Association for projects related to light pollution.
"If there isn't outreach to expose girls to technology and science, then they may not have the opportunity to explore these fields,” says Sophia, who plans to pursue computer science and Asian studies in college. "I love to promote how technology and art work together and it is satisfying when I can help others appreciate the artistry in computer animation, graphics and games.”
As a three-year Senior Ambassador and 2012-2013 State President of the Idaho 4-H Teen Association, one of Brett Wilder's greatest achievements has been the founding of the hugely successful District II 4-H Leadership Retreat. The retreat aims to teach teens to "create plans of action for service in their communities."
"If the retreat failed, I would have been seen as a kid who couldn't follow through on his projects," he stresses, "Instead, I am viewed as a teen who can overcome the fight against time and society's view of adolescence and create an opportunity for my peers to excel."
Brett hopes to go into a career in public policy and plans to major in both agricultural economics and animal science or agricultural education.
When Isha Jog moved to America and started elementary school, she did not speak English, could not communicate with teachers or peers, and was not confident in her ability to read. Now a senior in high school, Isha holds a 4.0 GPA, is taking three advanced placement classes and is learning two new languages in addition to the three she speaks fluently.
A firm believer in the importance of volunteering, Isha started the non-profit organization "Holiday Heroes," which has collected cans of food for a local food pantry, created Valentine's Day cards for senior citizens and made a Christmas meal at a youth center for at-risk and troubled children.
With her title as "Distinguished Young Woman of Illinois," Isha began fundraising for Children's Miracle Network to benefit children's hospitals and help pay for life-changing surgeries for sick and injured children.
At age twelve, Kyle Ashby partnered with her sister to create Friends Through Books, an organization which provides books and education materials to the students of Carriacao, a Caribbean island that suffers from widespread illiteracy.
Overcoming major financial hurdles, Kyle has seen this organization grow to donate over 25,000 books and $30,000. Four years later, Friends Through Books has also built a septic tank at a school, paid for two children's life-altering eye surgeries, assisted six women in receiving college degrees and started a pen pal program for students between Carriacou and Boise, Idaho, where Kyle lives.
Recently, Kyle has been working on a new project to promote self-esteem in young women. Kyle says her goal is to "make an impact on the lives of those born into these horrific situations." She plans to eventually work with an international peace organization to "not only promote peace in these areas, but more specifically to help women and children rise out of the grasp of abuse, illness, trauma and poverty and to achieve an education."
"I love writing and expressing my opinion," says Nyaca Daughtry of Pleasant Valley High School in Pennsylvania. But she also loves expressing herself through dance. "Dance is another way to express your feelings and let out all your emotions, which I really, truly love doing," she says
Having lost her father at a young age, Nyaca dedicates everything she does and all of her accomplishments to him and his memory. "He has motivated me to go after my dreams and never give up," she says of her dad. She works hard, goes the extra mile and strives to be independent in all that she does. And she succeeds.
Nyaca is the chapter president of DECA in her marketing class and strives to simultaneously be a great leader, role model and student. "I love little children and helping the community," she says. Other people who persevere in life and never give up inspire her, and with a smile on her face, she plans to go far. "I never set myself up for failure, but if I don’t succeed I’ll try again and again until I do. Without my family, friends and most of all, my dad, I wouldn’t be who I am today."
Erin Ashley Clark is the founder and president of FYI – Finding Yourself In School. She started the club as a way for students to find support in an environment where they don’t always feel like they fit in. "Bringing these students out of their shells and forming them into the leaders of tomorrow gives me a huge sense of pride. I am a leader."
Even when Erin was forced to be bedridden due to thyroid surgery, she remained positive and fought through a brief bought of depression and exhaustion in order to continue to support her peers. She persevered, going to work and school to interact with her friends as much as possible.
"I’m proud because we have such a variety of students," she says of her club's success. "I spend countless hours planning club meetings, fundraisers and working. I care so much for the kids in my school that…I take time to talk to each one of them just to see how their day is."
"I have achieved a lot," says high school senior Miku Stone. "I believe that it takes a lot of courage to do something that others will normally not do." Miku has been a member of Oklahoma Small School All-State Honor Band, a summer band camp at Texas Christian University (www.tcu.edu), a summer military camp, a summer fine arts camp, and participated in a long-distance event in track (3200 meter run).
Miku is most proud of her acceptance into Girls State during her junior year, where she was given the opportunity to join girls from across Oklahoma, each selected by their hometown American Legion Auxiliary. Girls State gives Miku and her peers the "opportunity to learn about the government and run for mock government offices."
Mike Sempier, a junior at Boone High School in Florida, has been largely self-sufficient growing up. After living in foster care for the first seven years of his life, Sempier eventually moved into a stable environment, but had to learn to deal with different expectations. "[I went from] lack of support in school and no schedule to being placed in a permanent home with other kids who lived a much more structured life with education being a top priority," he says.
However, Sempier didn’t allow this radical life change to set him back. He considers his greatest achievement as "being responsible in regard to working, saving and education." This self-discipline has allowed Sempier to become a hard-working student who hopes to investigate a career in engineering, or one day own a business where he can focus on building things, like construction, automotive or electronics.
"I’m most proud of being a well-rounded person," says Chelsea Jimenez, a senior at Ridge View High School in South Carolina. "I am a motivated leader and intellectual that has worked to my full potential to become something greater in life." Jimenez hopes to become a psychology major and a member of ROTC. She intends to be a commissioned officer in the Air Force or Army and graduate as a Second Lieutenant in the military.
While Jimenez is a stellar student, she had to overcome a dip in her grades after being out of school for medical reasons during her junior year. Some of her teachers were concerned that her grades would delay her graduation, but with hard work she managed to get her grades back up and will graduate with her fellow classmates.
Humboldt High School senior Ashley Ann Marie Lauger has a gift for speech and language. Every year, she has competed at the state level in speech competition and even made it to All-State her sophomore year. Her talent in this field has inspired her to pursue broadcasting as part of her post-graduate plans.
Lauger considers her greatest accomplishment to be her time spent as a volunteer. She is currently working toward the “Silver Cord Award,” an honor that requires 400 hours of volunteer work. She is on her way to achieving that goal with her work as a counselor at a Christian camp and her time spent building an orphanage in Guatemala. She stresses, “I really enjoy being able to help people and volunteer my time."
Trey Tisdale, a junior at Petal High School in Mississippi, is already committed to a life of mission work. He was encouraged to do so after completing a trip to Haiti last year working at the Life is Hope Orphanage.
Tisdale’s mission work also influences his life at school. He recently charted a new club at his high school for Show Hope, an organization that helps orphans and families who are adopting. Through volunteering, he has also influenced several charters to open outside the Tennessee area and, at his own high school, he gained 85 members who will assist him in completing two service projects over the course of the year.
According to his counselor, Dawn Tisdale who nominated him to be a Super Teen, “[Trey’s] goal each day is not what he can do for himself, but what can he do for others.”
Alan Pekel, a senior at Fruitport High School in Michigan, has the motto, "I can do anything I put my mind to." Pekel excels most in science because it "just comes naturally" to him. He plans to major in radiology in college and become a radiation therapist after he graduates.
Pekel is one of only a few people who can claim to be a quadruplet — one of four babies born at once! While he struggled with a learning disability throughout his time in school, Pekel has been inspired to prove that he can do anything as long as he works hard enough.
Being active in his community and overcoming anything that stands in his way, Pekel exemplifies what it means to be a Super Teen.
"I am basically one giant melting pot of many different cultures," says Kristina Tubera, a junior at Keller High School in Texas. Encouraged by her background, she strives to study international business and become a global marketing manager.
As a member of DECA, a marketing club at her school, Tubera proudly won first place in her category, making it all the way to the international competition as a finalist. "I was extremely proud of myself," she says. "[I] hope to bring back the title of champion this upcoming year!"
Tubera hopes to serve as a good example by being a dedicated student, an achieved team member and a survivor; she has overcome an eating disorder and wants to help others as well. She wisely advises, "Happiness starts with acceptance of who you are and what you are made to be."
Hamtramck High School junior Jawaria Sarfraz of Michigan always has a smile on her face because, according to her, "giving a warm smile to someone is like giving happiness to them!"
Sarfraz shares her smile as a volunteer at her local Children’s Hospital of Detroit. Her work there has inspired her to go to medical school and to pursue a career as a pediatrician. "It makes me proud of myself," she says of the work she does there. "I get to help people and every day is a new experience of life."
Having to grow up fast was one of Sarfraz’s biggest challenges after her father had a heart attack. She says the experience was "the point in my life when I realized it was time to grow up and take responsibility."
Sarfraz’s parents have always been supportive. She says, "I am who I am today all because of them!"
History is a passion for Kimberly Rose, a junior at East Literature Magnet School in Tennessee who plans to pursue a major in medieval history and eventually become a history professor.
Rose uses determination and an unwillingness to give up to get through her toughest challenges. Most notably, she used these traits to become a published poet at the age of 15 and was featured in a compilation of "Best Poems and Poets of 2011."
In her community, Rose is involved in the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, a role that allows her to participate in a variety of service projects in her area.
Being a supportive student, daughter and friend is what makes Rose "super." She stresses, "I reach for the stars and won’t stop until I touch one."
Jen Susca, a junior at East Catholic school in Connecticut, is already a published author, completing her first novel at age 14. Even more impressive is that her self-published tale made it through the second round of Amazon.com’s Breakthrough Novel Award.
Susca plans to major in creative writing in college and to continue to write books and poetry after she graduates. "I always aspired to be an author as a teen," she says. "I plan to keep on writing books for the rest of my life."
Even though Susca considers herself to be introverted, she knows what she loves to do and is following her dreams. She stresses that, "no matter how many times I get rejected, I keep going."
Alexis McGill, a senior at Gaffney Senior High School in South Carolina, doesn’t strive to be different, but says, "I am who I am."
McGill’s self-expression shows with her work as editor of the yearbook, the Cherokeean, which was featured in the publisher’s "look book" for the 2010-11 school year.
As for her future plans, McGill’s ultimate goal is to work in a mental rehabilitation center to help patients like her father, who suffered severe brain damage in a car accident.
"Instead of focusing on the dramatic changes that my father’s accident caused, I use him as my motivation to go far in life and make him, as well as myself, proud."
Science is a passion for Cindy Onyekwelu, a junior from Alief Taylor High School in Texas, who wants to pursue a career in pharmacy.
Cindy’s friends call her the "multi-tasker" because of her many school activitie including, Students Against Drugs and Violence, student council, yearbook club and the tennis team.
"The biggest challenge that I faced was losing my father," she says, "but I overcame it by putting my feelings aside and focusing on how to help my family...by staying in school and doing the best I can!"
Senior Sara Horning from St. Petersburg Collegiate High School in Florida has a passion for both math and writing. She excels the most in mathematics and is passionate about writing. She contributes to TbTwo, a newspaper distributed by the Tampa Bay Times.
Horning also volunteers at the Chamber of Hope: Hyperbaric Oxygen Center for Children in her hometown.
"I would love to someday, after many, many years of college, become a neurologist," she says. "The brain is fascinating because of the mystery it holds and what it’s capable of."
Tonya Ingerson, a junior from Fairview High School in Colorado, has a special concern for what her generation leaves behind. "[My passion] goes beyond myself and my world and extends to everyone else, now and later."
Ingerson channels her global passion through her work as a Junior Ranger for the city of Boulder where she works to maintain the environment. In addition, she is an advocate for others through programs like Colie’s Closet, a suicide prevention organization, and Mean Stinks, a program that encourages girls to speak kindly to each other.
Ingerson says, "I can’t do anything about most of the challenges in my life. All I can do is just try to not let it get me down. Everybody has something to offer."