Winter 2013 Super Teen Finalists
These lucky finalists are eligible for the $1,000 cash prize to be awarded by May 23, 2014. Voting on finalists will begin no later than May 1st.
Allie Thiesse of South Dakota told NextStepU that “I think we are able to accomplish so much more by working as a community and empowering those around us.” That was Allie’s advice on how to be super, which she follows every day.
After losing loved ones and also finding out that a friend was diagnosed with cancer, Allie decided to keep busy by helping others. She focused on community service and volunteering to get through the hard times. She has volunteered more than 150 hours in the past few months and has completed several leadership courses.
Allie is a perfect example of how great things are sometimes created in reaction to personal loss.
Allie says that her greatest achievement has been helping the friend that is battling cancer. Allie designed a T-shirt and a website to fundraise for her friend’s family and to rally the community’s support. With Allie’s help, her friend’s family received more than $7,500 and 1,100+ likes on the Walter’s Warriors Facebook page. “I would like to continue to raise awareness about the battles of children with cancer,” she explains.
Allie does not plan to slow down her community service. Although she loves studying history, she sees herself pursuing something different after high school. She plans on either becoming a zoologist or learning how to train dogs to assist handicapped children. With her sense of service and determination, Allie will succeed no matter what path she chooses.
Allie says “I think what makes someone super is following their passion and in doing so lifting up others around them.” That in a nutshell describes Allie’s actions and her philosophy. It is also why she is a Super Teen.
Fall 2013 Super Teen Finalists
One of the biggest challenges of Yaime Espinoza’s life was facing the unknown when it came to college. As Yaime of Texhoma High School in Oklahoma says, she is “the first generation in [her] family that is going to college.” Understandably, she felt intimidated to be the first person to take this step. However, she rose above this difficulty by “joining Upward Bound” and attending summer camps at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. At these camps, Yaime received the opportunity to learn and to “experience a true college lifestyle.” This Super Teen took the initiative to take the challenge and prepare for college on her own time. When it is her turn to go to college, not only will Yaime be prepared and confident, she will be majoring in Biology and will eventually pursue a career as a dentist.
In addition to her impressive pre-college summer work, Yaime was also one of only 100 students in the country to be part of the esteemed Disney Dreamers Academy. Yaime says she was “truly blessed to receive such a great honor” and earning this once-in-a-lifetime experience is evidence of her hard work being recognized. Yaime’s selection in the program just goes to show how her “hard work throughout school has paid off.” Yaime enjoys being a mentor to younger students, and her achievement in the Disney Dreamers Academy is just further proof of how she is an extraordinary role model to others.
Elizabeth Liu of California says she wants to be “a voice for the unheard.” After overcoming severe depression, Elizabeth has realized that there only needs to be one person “to make a positive change” and has dedicated her life to others. Her hardships have led her to understand her own value and have inspired her to realize that she wants to help the world. She even plans to join the United Nations after college.
Elizabeth stresses that “non-profit organizations are not only a mere extra-curricular activity,” but are actually “a lifestyle.” She advocates that every person should be entitled to an education and founded the Supply Education Group Chapter during her sophomore year of high school. In this group, Elizabeth hopes to empower children living in urban slums by “building one secondary school at a time.” Currently, Elizabeth and her group are focused on building the Jumba Lenana Academy and the Matopeni Secondary School in Kenya. According to this Super Teen, it is her “duty to see that everyone deserves a fair chance,” no matter what background they come from.
On top of these amazing accomplishments, Elizabeth is also an excellent student. Her favorite subject is AP Human Geography and World History because it has helped her further understand the world and has reminded her of “archaic traditions, philosophy, and mistakes, but also of ways that our ancestors were able to overcome the everyday.” Elizabeth’s passion for the futures of the underprivileged is only matched by her interest in the past and how we descended from its challenges. Not only has Elizabeth excelled in this class, she has been inspired to fulfill her “responsibility as a global citizen.”
When Danielle Mackson, of Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School in Florida, was asked to explain why she is a Super Teen, she replied that she has always “worked extremely hard to be responsible, respectful, honest and helpful.” Her hard work throughout high school is definitely proof of that. Danielle is a founder of a quarterly newsletter called Choices for Children, participates in community service with her synagogue youth group and has also worked with underprivileged children. Danielle’s achievements in community service even resulted in her being awarded the school “Humanitarian Award.” Even though she goes to school with 2,800 other students, this Super Teen manages to stand out. She is, indeed, a “role model for [her] peers.”
This focus on community service and leadership is a result of going from a small, private school to a large, public high school. While the transition was difficult, Danielle believes that “it was the best decision” that she could make. She says, “I have been able to excel in my new school by doing well academically” and being part of various activities including “President of Junior Class” and “serving as the Entertainment Editor of the school newspaper.” Danielle’s hard work made the absolute best out of a stressful situation.
And it seems that Danielle will not be changing that pattern of hard work anytime soon. After she graduates, Danielle plans to major in communications, but still plans on participating in leadership roles and community service. She says that she wants to “gain the most from my college experience, while giving back to others.”
As a worker for CAVATA, a clothing company that donates profits to low-income schools, it is clear that Bianca Palumbo of Melrose High School in Massachusetts is always willing to “reach out to those who need a hand.” She is always interested in community service that involves helping children or raises money for a good cause. Bianca emphasizes that she is especially dedicated to “promoting businesses who contribute to a good cause.” Her community service clearly reaches to several areas of her life.
As Bianca says, she has made a happy life for herself by “fulfilling academic achievements,” participating in community service, holding many jobs and having “unique interests and personality traits” that help her stand out. Some of these academic achievements include reaching Honors or High Honors each quarter of Bianca’s high school career. In particular, Bianca “excel[s] in History and English” and loves to “read and write poetry.” Bianca will continue with these high academic standards next year, when she plans on taking AP and other high level courses. Bianca says that she is “proud of [her] performance,” and with this track record, she definitely should be.
Bianca plans to follow this trajectory by majoring in Marketing in college and then going on to earn her Master’s or Ph.D. degree in the field. Bianca has chosen this field of study because she enjoys “interacting with all different people and succeeding in selling a product.” The drive that has helped her in high school will surely help her in her future endeavors, as well.
As a First Sergeant in the JROTC, Kaitlyn Sands, understands what it means to overcome challenges and balance different commitments. As Kaitlyn, of Jefferson County High School in Tennessee, explains, her biggest trial was maintain good grades throughout high school. Her mother was unemployed for about six months, and Kaitlyn’s family “sometimes wondered where [their] next would come from.” Keeping good grades in high school and facing those kinds of difficulties as a teenager demonstrates exactly whey Kaitlyn is a Super Teen. She knew good grades and excelling academically would help her “make it somewhere in life.”
Her family’s perseverance and Kaitlyn’s hard work certainly paid off in the long run. Army JROTC is now Kaitlyn’s favorite subject, and is also the subject in which she particularly shines. Kaitlyn stresses, “the thing I’m most proud of is my surpassing in JROTC.” Her commitment to this subject is admirable and has helped her attain the high position of First Sergeant.
In her five semesters of JROTC, Kaitlyn has completed three community service projects and has volunteered at six nursing homes. These rare experiences will help her when she plans to major in nursing in college. Kaitlyn’s ultimate goal is to be a Registered Nurse at The University of Tennessee Hospital. As she explains why she picked nursing as a career path, Kaitlyn says “no matter the mood I’m in I’ve always had the urge to help people.” Kaitlyn’s experience in JROTC, her vast community service and her selflessness will certainly help her become a great nurse.
Not many teens can say that their creative writing has been published. But this is not the case for Hillary Tang of California. On top of her impressive GPA, volunteer work, and dance career, Hillary has published several articles and poems. She’s even published a 300 page novel entitled Depth over Distance. It is no surprise that Hillary excels most in English class and is a senior editor and publisher for the Los Angeles Youth Newspaper. This Super Teen says she enjoys “taking readers to a different dimension and writing topics that relate to others.”
Her hard work has resulted in Hillary being awarded Editor’s Choice for her article entitled “The Struggling Race of the Admissions Game,” and her poem, “Dark,” has also been well-received. Her love of writing and storytelling stems from a prolonged hospital stay in her middle school years. Although she was forced to be on bed rest, Hillary learned to express herself and her emotions through her words. It seems a difficult time in her life helped her find her passion.
Hillary says that she hopes to “continue advocating, writing, performing, and helping others,” and wants to do that by majoring in Business Law when she attends college. Her love for public speaking, performing and writing has paved the way for a new passion: debate. Hillary’s love of the written and spoken word, her debate skills, and her love of helping others will most likely help her fulfill her goal of becoming a lawyer. Hillary herself says it best when she describes how she loves “helping others and advocating for better human rights.” This dedication will ensure that she becomes an excellent lawyer and is why she is definitely a Super Teen!