Alexander Hamilton Scholars is proud to announce our 2019 Hamilton Scholars Cohort! These 29 young adults from across the United States exhibit the highest standards of character and leadership through service, selected from a pool of over 600 high-achieving high school juniors nationwide. Join us in celebrating our Scholars and be sure to read their inspiring bios below by clicking on their photos!
Christopher Badillo Miami, FL
Christopher is a high-achieving student at the School for Advanced Studies-South in Miami, Florida. He has been a champion for a more progressive state which fights for everyone. He believes in the strength of the people and community, advocating for structural change that will better the nation.
Christopher has fought for change in collaboration with organizations throughout the state. He led the charge for a walkout at Coral Reef Senior High School to protest the epidemic of gun violence that has plagued the nation. Furthermore, he served as the Logistics Coordinator for the Young Leaders Summit in Miami, which brought together hundreds of students throughout Miami-Dade to advocate for gun reform with the power of the youth voice. Christopher served as a moderator and organizer for the Congressional District 26 “Town Hall for Our Lives.” In addition, he served as a volunteer on a progressive campaign for governor, which won an upset primary against the established favorites in the race. Christopher also organized with nonpartisan organizations to help pass Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights for felons who had completed their sentence. Recently, Christopher was elected as the Student Advisor to the Miami-Dade County School Board, voted by student governments from across the county to represent their interests to the school board members.
Christopher has also received recognition for achievements in competitive and academic spheres. He is the Deputy Vice President of the SAS-South SGA. As a member of the Florida Public Service Association, he placed first in the district competition for Extemporaneous Opening Statement and Prepared Speaking. He also placed first in the state for Criminal Justice Brain Bowl, and third and fourth in Extemporaneous Opening Statement and Extemporaneous Speaking, respectively. Further, Christopher serves as an attorney and President for his Mock Trial team. He was the Grand Prize winner in STEM for the Piano Slam 8 poetry competition, and a finalist in STEM for Piano Slam 11. In addition, he was his school’s grand champion in Poetry Out Loud recitation, and their representative for the state competition.
It is Christopher’s goal to become an advocate for the people of his community, and of the country, in order to represent the needs of all. He aims to achieve this through a career in law, through which he can defend people from the numerous forms of systemic discrimination, corruption, and injustice that exist in modern society.
Diewo Camara Canal Winchester, OH
Diewo is a hard-working, reliable student of Mauritanian descent at Columbus North International High School. She juggles Advanced Placement and college courses while also being an active member in her community. Through her social skills, she organizes and implements major projects that are valuable to her local and school community. Diewo surrounds herself with people who inspire her to achieve a brighter future. Her life story and the difficulties she has faced have made her into the strong, confident young woman she now is.
Diewo is most proud of her work as a Quran teacher at her local Islamic Mosque. She has taught kids from the ages of five to ten how to read, write, and memorize the Quran, shifting their views on Muslim perception. Looking back on her time spent teaching, Diewo says, “Their innocence, honesty, and happiness gives me hope for the future.” Diewo has also helped organize the African Cultural Showcase as well as African-American cultural shows at her school, which have broken stereotypes and created better relationships among students at her school.
Additionally, Diewo is involved in many different extracurricular activities, such as the Global Scholars Program. As a Global Scholar, Diewo has learned to become globally competent with the knowledge, skills, and mindset necessary for the leadership, citizenship, and careers in an interconnected society. Diewo is also a mentor for the Girls Empowerment Group, where she helps middle schoolers build their confidence and problem-solving skills. In addition, Diewo speaks four languages: English, Fulani, Wolof, and French, and she is currently learning the Arabic language, all of which provide her with an additional path to break down barriers and form friendships within the student body.
“I would not be where I am today without my family pushing me to become somebody and having my back every step of the way,” Diewo says, adding that her father has always instilled in her that education is the primary key to success and her mother has shown her that success is not only measured by intelligence, but also by the type of character you carry. Living in Mauritania for a few years showed Diewo the disadvantages and unfortunate situations some of her family members have gone through. She states that she has already seen some of the work her uncle, who is an anesthesiologist, has done for their family members. She hopes to one day be able to do the same.
Calli Carter Canton, GA
One of Calli’s defining characteristics is her resilience. She has struggled with many hardships and continues to fight battles daily, but prevails nonetheless. Her friends would describe her as kind, logical, and always willing to help those in need. Calli has a desire to learn and create solutions to all kind of problems. Though practical, Calli still looks at the bigger picture and appreciate the adventures life has to offer.
Calli is most proud of her accomplishments that have a lasting impact on others. She saved the lives of multiple kittens after rescuing two pregnant strays and providing for the litter by herself. They grew up healthy and went on to loving homes, thanks to Calli’s warm and proactive actions. Calli has also published works online that have inspired hundreds to begin their own writings or helped them through a rough time.
On top of balancing work and life, Calli volunteers in her spare time. She is often seen at her local ice rink, coaching other skaters and giving advice. Figure skating is one way Calli expresses herself and she loves encouraging and helping others to do the same. At school, Calli can be found in the library revising and editing her peers’ essays. Though only a junior, she was one of the three in her class chosen to participate in the Writer’s Den Club, which focuses on giving literary advice to students of any grade.
Calli’s aspirations include a strong interest in children’s rights and the environment. Her past inspires her to take a stance on issues regarding childcare in America and around the world. In addition, she hopes that she can help create an environmentally friendly future for tomorrow’s generation to live in and has set may goals to get there.
Gabriela Constancio Pomona, CA
Gabriela is an extremely driven and dedicated young Latina woman. She has overcome various obstacles through her strong will and dedication that drives her forward, encouraging her to pursue a brighter future. Gabriela hopes to create positive change first in her community, and eventually throughout the world, leaving a positive mark.
Gabriela is most proud of her work as Co-Founder, and now President, of BRIDGE Tutoring in Claremont, California. BRIDGE is an organization that provides opportunities and guidance to underprivileged children from underserved backgrounds. Although she considers this her greatest achievement, it has also been her biggest challenge, facing resistance from participants on both sides of mentorship, making it very difficult to sustain. However, due to her persistence, Gabriela kept the program together. She continues investing her time and energy into the organization and her mentoring relationships with her students, making sure they receive as much guidance and time as they need. Gabriela says from this experience, “Thinking back from the first day, to the place we as a program are in today, fills me up with pride knowing I have given these kids a push in the right direction, motivating them for success.”
Additionally, Gabriela is the Junior Representative of Teen Green, a partnership with Pomona College students, that she has worked with since her eighth-grade year due to her passion for the environment. Gabriela is also a participant in Pomona Academy for Youth Success (PAYS). During her spare time, she has taught herself how to code and is currently working to develop her own coding program for young girls in her community.
Gabriela hopes to attend UC Berkeley next fall, double majoring in Environmental Engineering and Computer Science. Gabriela is ready to make a positive difference.
Evelyn De La Cruz Harbor City, CA
Evelyn has an immense love for learning new things. This love has led to an ambition of exploring every endeavor so that she can become better equipped to help others. Though socioeconomic barriers do persist, she is working hard to overcome them, and pursue further education. These circumstances have given her the drive to help others as much as she can.
Evelyn is most proud of her involvement with her local library's Girls Who Code club, where she works to close the gender gap in the computer science industry. Evelyn initially joined the club to learn a new skill; however, after a few meetings, she fell in love with the mission of the club. Her passion for helping others inspired her to take a computer science class, so that she could teach and assist others with some of the concepts. She now serves as a teen coordinator and mentor for the club, sharing her knowledge and experiences with other members. She loves helping young girls prepare for the future.
Evelyn is the current Business Manager for the Narbonne Speech and Debate team, Treasurer of Best Buddies, an Editor for The Green and Gold, her school newspaper, and member of the Cross Country Team. In addition, she has served under two political campaigns as an intern for Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi of the 66th district of California. While academics and clubs are vital, community service is of equal importance, as she is an active member of National Honor Society, and volunteers for her local church group. Growing up as a first generation American, Evelyn saw many disadvantages around her. Going to underserved schools made her realize that she wanted to change the circumstances in which youth receive their education. She aspires to be a public servant, to prompt change for communities like hers.
Evelyn’s biggest role models are her immigrant parents. Having worked all their lives, they taught Evelyn the value of a good work ethic. Their tireless diligence is what she admires most. Evelyn’s ultimate goal is to make them, and the rest of her family, proud.
Biruktawit "Brooke" Fekru Alexandria, VA
Brooke is a dedicated student that lives in Annandale, Virginia. Her strong vision for a better future allows her to have a strong will and motivation to do better everyday. Brooke is involved in her community and tries her best to improve it in any way she can.
Brooke has been involved in various internships and volunteer work throughout the course of high school. As a freshman, she volunteered at the Lost Cats and Dogs Rescue Foundation and was also a tutor at G.I.V.E. at her local library. As a sophomore, Brooke took part in a 14-week extensive course to become a tour guide for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Brooke was also an intern for the 2018 Kaine Campaign throughout summer of 2018. In addition her involvement in organizations such as these, Brooke has also taken part in various leadership roles at her school. She is currently the Vice President for a club called Just World, the Vice President for her debate team, and also serves as Publicist for the environmental club, Green Atoms.
Brooke is also an active member of various clubs and extracurricular activities, such as English Honor Society, National Honor Society, and Social Studies Honor Society. During her freshman year, Brooke was on the tennis team, and on the track team during her sophomore year. Brooke also plays the cello for her school orchestra program, playing in multiple concerts throughout the year.
Brooke’s parents are a huge inspiration for her. About five years ago, her parents made a monumental decision to leave wealth, persitige, and a comfortable life back home for the education of their children. Everyday Brooke strives to make her parents proud and to ensure their hard work was not lost in vain.
Lawrence Guittap Honolulu, HI
Kulia I Ka Nu‘u (Strive to Meet the Summit). These words from Queen Kapi‘olani have continued to mold Lawrence’s life and actions through his dedication to service and willingness to overcome adversities with a smile. A recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, serving over 500 hours since his freshman year, Lawrence cultivates his gratefulness for the opportunities afforded to him through service in his home, school, and community.
Lawrence is most proud of serving as the first California-Nevada-Hawai‘i Key Club (CNH) District Secretary from Hawai‘i, serving over 770 clubs and 35,000 members across the three states. Through Key Club, Lawrence was nationally recognized as a Robert F. Lucas Outstanding Lieutenant Governor and CNH Distinguished Lieutenant Governor for nine schools. Throughout his term, Lawrence has led all nine Key Clubs to serve a cumulative total of 16,000 service hours and raise over $2000 for the CNH Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Program, an initiative to decrease pediatric trauma incidents nationwide.
As an AP and dual-credit college student, Lawrence is involved in a multitude of extracurricular activities. He was a selected delegate of the first Kapiolani Community College Pharmacy Technician Program cohort at his high school, earning a Pharmacy Technician Certificate in Competency. He intends on working with a pharmacy in his senior year with his certification as a way to financially support his family. Additionally, Lawrence serves as President of his high school’s HOSA: Future Health Professionals chapter and is a member of the Erudites Club, a college preparatory organization, and National Honor Society.
As a student of the Farrington Health Academy, Lawrence is aware of the need for healthcare workers, aspiring to use his financial and health-related adversities to gain confidence in pursuing a career in the health field through service. Being diagnosed with two blood disorders, Lawrence aspires to become a hematologist to treat individuals who face similar health challenges. His grandmother, Mathie, a victim of leukemia, serves as Lawrence’s greatest motivation in life. “My grandma taught me to perceive hardships as a way to grow and never put myself down when odds are played against me. Without her, I would’ve been lost and not cognizant of my purpose as a student leader and aspiring healthcare professional.”
Mehribon Hamrokulova Baltimore, MD
Mehri is a proactive leader in her community, striving to empower and inspire others. Despite all her obstacles, Mehri maintains a positive and “go-getter” mindset that acts as a facet to both her personal and academic success.
While holding leadership positions in numerous extracurriculars at her high school, Mehri is most proud of her work starting the Girl Up club, a segment founded by the United Nations to bridge the academic gap between adolescent girls globally. Immigrating from Uzbekistan at six years old, Mehri developed a strong perspective on education and the rights of women. She started Girl Up in hopes of giving young girls from less-advantaged nations the voice they have been long deprived of. From lobbying for the Keeping Girls in School Act at Capitol Hill to facilitating an Advocacy 101 session with an advocacy officer in the United Nations, she strives for only the best for her peers. Mehri hopes to simultaneously learn from her surroundings and empower a community of young leaders who are willing to stand up for what they believe is necessary for universal equity.
Due to her academic excellence and commitment, Mehri was granted membership to numerous honor societies at her school. She serves as Vice President for the Spanish Honor Society and is an active member of Rho Kappa Social Studies, English, and National Honor Society. Mehri is most proud of being a leader in Multi-Culturally Rising Above Differences (MRAD). Being a part of MRAD has enabled her to familiarize with a plethora of diverse cultures and compete for presentational speaking on regional and state levels.
In the future, Mehri plans to go into Public Health and Women's Studies to make a change in communities where women are not delivered the quality of healthcare necessary for successful lives. Mehri sees an endless amount of opportunities in exposing herself to every aspect of her culture and background because it educates and gives her an opportunity to grow and discover her passions.
Josue Herrera Rivera Houston, TX
Josue Herrera Rivera is a hardworking and highly motivated student from Alief Early College in Houston, Texas. Although Josue has been able to overcome many obstacles throughout his life and educational career, they have had a great impact on who he is as a person today.
Being an officer for the No Knights Left Behind Program is one of the accomplishments Josue is most proud of. He joined this program as a mentee when he was a freshman at Alief Early College High School. In the span of two years, Josue was able to climb the ranks and become an officer and mentor. Josue says, “I feel like the No Knights Left Behind Program is an investment in our future. I enjoy interacting with people from different walks of life and the easier I can make someone’s life, the better.”
Josue has also been involved in the Alief Early College Student Council as the Junior Class Treasurer. He and a select group of individuals were in charge of raising money for their class through different events, such as the Homecoming Dance. Although there were many obstacles along the way, the council was able to pull through and produce a memorable night. Josue is also involved in many other school activities like Yearbook and the National Honor Society.
Josue’s biggest inspirations are his parents. He was separated from them from a young age, but they have played a very important role in his life. His father has served as Josue’s role model from an early age, always stressing the importance of education in one’s life. Unfortunately, Josue’s father passed during the summer of 2017, but this only propelled Josue’s passion for his own education. Josue’s main goal is to make his family proud by reaching his goals.
Tyon James Los Angeles, CA
Tyon James, a native Angelino, possesses strong character, motivation to succeed, and a high level of devotion toward helping inner city youth and minorities. He has managed to overcome a great deal of hardship within his life through grit, determination, and strong faith. Tyon has forged his own path away from gang violence, finding joy serving as a pillar within his South Central Los Angeles community, working to evoke change, institutionalizing new educational efforts, and policies surrounding young black men within his school and its neighboring communities.
Tyon is most proud of his ongoing academic excellence as a honor roll recipient and participation in many robust programs. He was a participant in the Black College Tour (EST) where he visited a multitude of HBCU’s alongside other black high school students. Tyon has also participated in African American Leaders for Tomorrow, learning more about the legislative process and what it means to be a young black man within it. He also attended a leadership academy in Washington DC through the Foundation for Teaching Economics and participated in deeply impactful leadership activities and economic lectures.
Tyon is involved in a wide array of extracurricular activities, allowing him to share his leadership capabilities. He is the President of National Honor Society, a high-achieving, service-oriented group, Treasurer of the Black Student Union Club, and Photographer and Editor of the Yearbook Club. Tyon also participated in the Riordan Scholars Program held at UCLA Anderson School of Management, where he learned about the business sector. Tyon is involved in the Corporate Work Study Program, where he interns at global company, Western Asset Management, gaining core skills and knowledge that will aid him in the future.
With such strong will and heavy interest in business and academics, Tyon possesses powerful aspirations. He works diligently to jumpstart an organization of his own to promote political and educational reform revolving around underserved students. This future organization will ultimately serve to uplift these students, providing them with opportunities to succeed. Tyon plans to study business administration with the possibility of minoring in psychology at a four-year university. He would also like to further a career within the area of human resources, marketing, real estate, or law related disciplines.
Fayre Khalique Columbus, GA
The other day, Fayre was asked for the worst pronunciation of her name. She contemplated the multitude of mispronunciations: Flower, Fire, Fage… all resulting in nicknames that stuck. However, Fayre did not mind these nicknames, finding them a subject of amusement, like when she mispronounced her own name before the AP Seminar exam. Throughout her life, Fayre has (unconsciously) tried to laugh every day because laughter signifies existence and contributes a sense of empathy. Fayre might return your plastic straw before you notice, but she also carries a deck of playing cards everywhere because trying to save the world is a serious, demanding task, and an occasional, lighthearted distraction is necessary to restore balance.
The duality of life allows for creation: to help “save the world” and for distraction. Although Fayre’s love for creating has led her to become a chef, baker, painter, sketcher, writer, etc., it has also led her to help create her school’s Writing Center. Fayre helped develop a safe place for students to further their literary endeavors. Fayre is able to help others while expanding upon her leadership skills, developing her patience, and discovering a new passion for writing.
The duality of life also allows for what Fayre calls, “consistent dabbling” (dabbling for an extended period). Fayre joined the cross-country team freshman year (she hated running), and miraculously, she stuck with it -- illustrating her never-ending drive. Additionally, Fayre’s early ventures on the debate team led her to discover Model United Nations, in which she is an avid participant. Fayre has been inducted into many honor societies, enabling her to partake in nearly 100 hours of additional community service in the areas she enjoys. Moreover, Fayre has volunteered at her place of worship for nearly a decade.
Fayre believes the quote, “jack of all trades, master of none,” encapsulates her life. She enjoys creating, environmentalism, and advocating for equality. Through the turmoil of being different in the Deep South, Fayre uses education as a means of self-improvement, her ticket to success, happiness, and change (two of which are social constructs). Currently, the path to the aforementioned is not clear, but she is working on attaining the ticket first. After all, the full quotation is, “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”
Andrew Lara Granada Hills, CA
Andrew leads through example and practice. He pushes to make every situation the best it can be and never gives up because he knows he can always do better. Andrew is an advocate for environmental conservation and is very excited to impact his community politically in the future.
Andrew is most proud of his position as President and Founder of the Environmental Club. He informs his peers on best environmental practices through presentations and group activities, as well as out-of-school activities for the entire club to attend together. He spends upwards of 15 hours a week educating himself on environmental issues and preparing and communicating information for club meetings. Andrew is ecstatic for the growth of Environmental Club, stating, “This year was a trial run; next year it’s going to be a full-on sprint to make the biggest and longest lasting change possible!”
Andrew is also heavily involved in other leadership roles in and out of school. He is currently serving as the class president of his graduating class, as he has done for the past two years. He regularly attends political events outside of school to learn more about local politics. Andrew is one of the highest performing Debate members at his high school, with success at tournaments held at Stanford University and CSU Fullerton. Andrew manages to also participate in the International Baccalaureate Programme, one of the most rigorous programs globally.
Andrew is a Mexican-Guatemalan-American and holds his culture very close to his heart. Andrew is the first generation of his family to attend college and he has many aspirations and goals to set for himself and his family. Andrew intends to participate politically in his home city of Los Angeles and make environmental and social changes all around the city. Andrew is proud of all his accomplishments but never plans to stop working to be the best person and leader he can be.
Dulce Martinez Oklahoma City, OK
Dulce is highly motivated student who creates paths for others. She is able to see the value of things when others do not. Dulce has worked hard on becoming the person she is today, learning a lot from her community and encouraging others to leave their comfort zone. She is a changemaker.
Dulce is most proud of her work as President of Key Club, an organization that serves the community and builds leaders and character. Dulce has been involved in since her freshman year, working her way up from member to where she is today. She uses this position to spread her love of serving the community with other likeminded peers. Dulce is also proud of her work fundraising money for a scholarship called “Aspiring Americans.” This organization invests in the future of aspiring Americans who are dedicated and passionate about bettering themselves and their communities.
Additionally, Dulce is involved in and outside of her school and community, where she learns about and from the perspectives of others. Dulce is also a cross-country runner and soccer player at her school and a member of the Canaries Running Club in her community.
Growing up, Dulce had to take responsibility of her family, where she draws much inspiration. She maintains her motivation with her mother’s support. Her education and family are the most valuable things in her life. Dulce has learned from everyone and wants to pass on her knowledge to others to help overcome barriers.
Emily Myers Pennsburg, PA
Emily Myers is an extremely motivated, compassionate, and hardworking young lady who has overcome many obstacles throughout her life. Emily was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of five. Through perseverance, therapy, and support from her family, Emily has learned strategies to overcome the challenges of autism.
Emily is most proud of her involvement and work with the Upper Perk Leo Club. Emily became extremely active in this club her freshman year, where she was afforded the opportunity to get involved in volunteerism. Last year, Emily was elected as Secretary, allowing her to develop leadership skills. Currently, Emily is Co-Vice President and is more involved in running the club meetings. Emily is the President-elect and has a vision to expand the organization and recruit new membership.
Emily is also a member of NHS, where she took on two service projects this year; the first being a student liaison for Project Live, a non-profit organization working to assist individuals and their families struggling with substance misuse. As the student liaison, Emily worked to obtain participation from high school students while helping organize community activities, such as the Project Live Memorial. Emily also took on a second service project organizing and running a community blood drive. In addition, Emily participates in Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America, Environmental Conservation Committee, Club Esperanto, Yearbook, and has competed in the Miss Pennsylvania Outstanding Teen Competition.
Emily aspires to become a genetic counselor, where she hopes to help people determine their propensity for medical conditions/diseases, as well as their risk of passing along conditions to their offspring. This is important to her, as being on the autism spectrum has made Emily conscious of individual’s genetics and how genetics affect a person’s life.
Dianey Navor La Puente, CA
Dianey Navor is an ambitious and highly motivated Mexican Latina that is shaped by her experiences and environment but not limited by them. Dianey has overcome many challenges and continues to do so knowing that her hard work will lead to a brighter outcome.
One of Dianey’s greatest accomplishments is being a part of the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), a 3-year rigorous residential program in the Pomona College campus designed to strengthen the skills of students and prepare them for college. Dianey says, “My experiences with PAYS gave me something that can never be taken away: my voice.” Dianey’s ability to stand up for what she believes in and question institutionalized ideas have given her a different outlook on life and shaped her identity.
Dianey is very passionate about dancing Folklorico and is the president of the Grupo Floclórico Fiesta en Nogales. She is the secretary of the California Scholarship Federation, National Honor Society, and Active Minds. Dianey values giving back to her community and volunteering, and she is especially passionate about working with children and immigrants.
Dianey is motivated by the experiences of her parents and the sacrifices that they have made for the benefit of her and her brothers. Seeing firsthand the struggles of being a low-income, under resourced family, she hopes to be able to support students and families of similar backgrounds in the future. Her determination outweighs the barriers and challenges she has faced throughout her life. Despite her life situaton, Dianey knows she will achieve success.
Ashley Neyra Van Nuys, CA
Ashley has a deep commitment to her education and a passion for history. She is highly compassionate and desires to dedicate her life to public service. She is the Youth Representative at the Van Nuys Neighborhood council and part of the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats.
Ashley is most grateful for her experiences in the Model United Nations team in her high school. She joined during her sophomore year and was promoted to Captain the following year. Aware of her passion for M.U.N and how it impacted her, Ashley decided to increase its popularity by creating a conference specifically for middle schoolers. The free conference she organized exposed middle schoolers to debate and world issues while encouraging incoming freshman to join the team at her high school. For other students, it motivated them to request the establishment of an M.U.N club at their own school.
Ashley is part of many other clubs and extracurricular activities, such as the Environmental Club at school and Student Council. One of Ashley’s most enjoyable experiences comes from the Speech and Debate team.
In the future, Ashley hopes to continue her education all the way to graduate school, as well as running for public office. Growing up in a low-resourced community, Ashley has known the struggles of the most humble people in the U.S and wants to work for them to help improve their lives.
Jorge Pena Oklahoma City, OK
Jorge is a very punctilious and diligent student. Throughout his life, he has learned that change cannot come if he does not take a stand for what he believes is right. Jorge also believes that the greatest gift anyone can give is their time. To demonstrate this value, he enjoys volunteering at local non-profit organizations to help make a difference in his community.
When Jorge began volunteering at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma at the age of nine, he learned there was nothing better than to work with other like-minded individuals who also care about change and service. Since then, he has interned at the Regional Food Bank and served as volunteer coordinator. During Jorge’s freshman year, he volunteered at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital and found his passion in healthcare: he knew he wanted to work with children. Through mentorship, Jorge learned how important it is to help our future generation of passionate professionals, saying, “If I could experience this program and meet these people again, I would, because that is how much they have inspired me to be passionate about my work and actions.”
In addition to volunteering, Jorge serves as President of Business Professionals of America President and Vice President of Key Club. Jorge is also a board member of Plan International USA Youth Advisory, a body of young people from the United States working with international youth and organization decisions makers to empower children across the world. His passion for service and change have helped Jorge take his impact from a local level to a national level.
Jorge’s passion for education originates from his father, who could not attend high school in Mexico because his family could not afford it. Jorge’s father always said, “As long as I’m here, you will always be able to reach for higher education, because you can lose everything, but no one can ever take away your education.”
Youbin Park Fortson, GA
“Shine brightly alone” is the meaning of Youbin’s name, which she lived up to for years. As a child, although introverted and painfully shy, she outshined her peers in academics. However, she was a follower and a listener. Near the end of her elementary school years, Youbin immigrated to the U.S. for her father’s work, a transition riddled with language barriers, discrimination, and prejudice. Although unbearable at the time, Youbin views such struggles in the past as a fertilizer which helped her bloom into a bold, charismatic, passionate, and determined student. As a result, Youbin is now a leader in many organizations who lends her light to brighten up others.
One prime example of Youbin’s leadership is demonstrated in the Multicultural Spring Program. In her sophomore year, she realized the severe cultural erasure and desensitisation of casual racism in the school, and drafted a proposal to her principal to create a program to address the aforementioned problem. One year later, Youbin presented the first Multicultural Spring Program, written, directed, and managed solely by her. Youbin’s focus was on providing an immersive experience to appreciate and embrace the diverse culture at her school. Through her leadership and passion, the Multicultural Spring Program stands as one of Youbin’s most proud and wholesome achievement.
Youbin is also involved in many extracurriculars, such as President of Japanese Club and Captain of Japanese Academic Bowl, in which her team placed second. In Model United Nations, Youbin placed as Best Delegation and Outstanding Delegation in both years of her participation. She is also a founding member of the Writing Center, where she tutors students with any genre of writing. Youbin is also very fond of music and art, placing first chair in her district’s Honor Orchestra. In sports, Youbin is the devoted Captain of the Columbus High School Rifle Team, one of the top performing teams in Georgia.
Youbin’s multi-talented nature and varied interests stem from her father. She cherishes memories of playing chess, listening to old music, painting mosaics of Picasso’s work, and most of all, conversing about the world with her father. Youbin dreams of becoming a reformer of law in the future.
Bukola Rinola Chicago, IL
Integrity, dedication, and confidence: these are the profound qualities Bukola Rinola continues to exhibit throughout her high school career. She is a thoughtful leader and active student who is dedicated to academics, writing, and most importantly: service to others in her community. Bukola’s hard work and dedication enables her to be academically successful in preparation for her dream career of becoming a Doctor of Medicine.
Bukola is an active member of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), where she have been a two-time national qualifier for the HOSA State Competition. This club has allowed Bukola to broaden her network and meet professionals who work in her anticipated career. After being involved in HOSA for two years, she is currently serving as a HOSA delegate, making wise decisions while representing her peers and school.
Bukola is proud of her role as Vice President of African Student United (ASU), a club that allows her to show her individuality and culture. She is able to share personal experiences, such as cooking cultural foods, music, and dance with people that are supportive and share similar core values. Having great confidence in herself has inspired Bukola to learn a third-language: Spanish. Looking at her roots, she envisions herself as more than someone from one place, but as using the language of communication to understand and have an open mind. As a first-generation college student, Bukola sees college as a privilege to make her dreams to come true.
Bukola believes that young children of color have a voice that needs to be heard, which is why she strives to inspire others like many distinguished leaders such as Malala Yousafzai, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Sojourner Truth, Maya Angelou, and Nawal el Saadawi, have done. Bukola taken it upon herself be involved in diverse programs, such as the Environmental Leadership Program, which has opened her eyes to the problems in her community today and ways that she can inspire others through community awareness. Bukola’s life motto: “Never stop trying, even if it means failing in the process.”
Ricardo Rivas Richmond, CA
Ricardo is a highly driven and caring person. He has experienced many ups and downs in his academic life, but powers through to achieve his goals. Ricardo’s work in his community has no strings attached. He gives back because he came from a low-income household and academically disadvantaged community, and wants to succeed while lifting everyone with him.
Ricardo is most proud for the work he has done at school. Ricardo created an event for LGBTQ+ Pride Month called “His White Sweater Experiment,” meant to call for allies that are typically hidden from our stereotyped society, and it has been a great learning experience for everyone. Ricardo works hard for what he believes and will do anything necessary to see his ideals embodied in himself and his peers. Ricardo decided to deepen the impact in his community by working with the Richmond Youth Committee to plan community events. These events are meant to encourage everyone to gather and acknowledge different cultures around them. The events have been a great success and he cannot wait to do more in his community.
Additionally, Ricardo has devoted himself to extracurricular activities in and outside of school, such as cross country, cheerleading, peer leaders, peer tutors, link crew leaders, and his high school’s enrollment team. He enjoys playing sports and helping students transition from middle school to high school. Ricardo enjoys participating in Summer Search and working with the Richmond Rescue Mission to help in the soup kitchen.
Ricardo’s inspiration in life comes from his family’s ability to push forward in life even if things are bad. Ricardo comes from a family full of workers, people who work hard for what their needs and wants, and even though Ricardo did not live a life compared to theirs, he tries his hardest to be just as hard working as his single mother, and all he does is meant for her. He is proud of what he has accomplished, but that will never be enough for him. He strives for more every single day.
Randa Serhan Falls Church, VA
Randa is outgoing and immensely determined. She enjoys challenging herself and when faced with adversity, uses it as motivation to succeed in what she is doing. Randa’s strong drive to accomplish her goals helps fuel her hunger for a successful future, in which she can help others.
Randa is most proud of her ability to play football during her sophomore year of high school. To Randa, football was much more than a sport: it was her way to speak up against sexism. Randa’s goal was to encourage her peers to pursue anything and everything they have ever wanted regardless of any barrier. Randa joined the team after being doubted by family, friends, and coaches. Nevertheless, she persisted, knowing she was breaking standards and pushing boundaries for all. Says Randa of this experience, “I feel that I made it possible for others to see what happens when you face adversity and refuse to let it stop you.”
In addition, Randa is involved in an extensive variety of extracurricular activities. She tutors younger students in biology as part of Science Honors Society, is a member of the National Honor Society, and Treasurer for the Muslim Student Association (MSA). Randa also plays Varsity Lacrosse and runs track for her school. Another one of Randa's passions is her ceramics class, which has enabled her to participate in a charity event called Empty Bowls, in order to help feed the homeless.
Randa’s determination is derived from the inspiration of her mother. Despite being an immigrant with little resources, Randa’s mother has always been able to find a way to make things happen. Watching her mother’s actions has taught Randa what it truly means to sacrifice everything for the benefit of others. Randa hopes to one day provide for her mother the way she provided for Randa growing up. Additionally, Randa is motivated by her family in Syria who have not had an opportunity to escape the active warzone. Knowing the situation they are living in inspires Randa to not only be successful enough to reunite them, but to help others any way she can because she understands what it is like to have nothing left.
Munahil Sultana Valley Stream, NY
Munahil is an ambitious and hardworking person who is open to new ideas and learning opportunities. She has faced several difficult obstacles throughout her life and prides herself on her ability to persevere and serve her community through it all. Currently an AP Scholar with Honors, Munahil has taken the most rigorous course load available and is pursuing an Advanced Regents Diploma at Elmont Memorial High School. In addition to her immense love for politics and debate, she is an avid artist who has presented at several local galleries and was a Finalist in the Celebrating Art National Summer Competition in 2018.
Munahil has been President of Model United Nations since her sophomore year and has led her team to success at many conferences. She is also an Editorial Editor for the All American Model United Nations Publication and a Media Associate for the Best Delegate Model United Nations Website. Earlier this year, Munahil served as the Secretary-General for her district Model United Nations Conference, which hosted over 350 students across five schools in her district.
Munahil’s passion for community service is truly emulated by her involvement as Junior President of Key Club, accumulating over 250 hours of community service. She also serves as Chairperson for the Superintendent Student Council and Vice President of her class, allowing her to further her involvement with the school and district community. As an intern for her local NYS Assemblywoman, Munahil is able to understand the concerns of her community and help address them accordingly. She was recently named a Questbridge College Prep Scholar.
Munahil aspires to major in International Relations or Philosophy for her undergraduate degree before attending law school. She has dreamt of becoming a lawyer for most of her life and hopes to work in foreign affairs, perhaps as a diplomat or Secretary of State. She attributes a lot of her success to her incredible support system at school as well as to her community for uplifting and empowering her.
Giovanni Tovar Fontana, CA
Giovanni Tovar is an ambitious individual who constantly works towards extracurricular and academic excellence with an open mind. His experiences growing up have allowed him to become a natural leader, but Giovanni Tovar is most optimistic when it comes to a collective community effort that involves everybody. Giovanni hopes to someday contribute to social justice through innovation as a STEM major in search of creating more affordable health related medicine or as an active lawyer who advocates for those who lack representation as they navigate the systems imposed by government which are relatively opaque.
Giovanni Tovar is most appreciative of his position as a member of the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), where he participates voluntarily in a 4-week long summer residential program consisting of a critical inquiry course and accelerated math class taught by college professors. PAYS has helped Giovanni foster an open-minded outlook to challenge rigid norms imposed in a world of phenomenally diverse people.
Giovanni Tovar is also proud of his experiences as secretary of the California Scholarship Federation (CSF), captain of the JV Boys Volleyball team, member of the 47th District Young Legislators Program, and as a part of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at his school, while handling AP courses to constantly challenge himself as he obtains valuable knowledge. Holistically, these activities in high school have taught Giovanni how to lead by example. While staying true to his values, Giovanni has sought to influence the future of each program by providing a contemporary outlook. His community involvement and ability to lead is fostered by extracurricular activities.
Along with time management skills that are necessary to handle such a busy schedule, Giovanni constantly keeps his parents in mind as a reminder of his purpose in being so dedicated to school. Giovanni thanks God for his parents’ unconditional support and love as he continues in his endeavors towards helping others. With all that his parents have given up, Giovanni tries to exceed expectations by setting ambitious goals to give back to his family and those around him.
Natalia Trejo Mobile, AL
Natalia is a hardworking, motivated student who attends Murphy High School. She has many accomplishments in academics and service, staying involved in her community and school through founding her own club and helping plan events with her peers.
Natalia’s proudest achievement is founding the first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club in her county at her high school. GSA is meant to create a safe space for LGBT+ high schoolers and their allies. It is a way for students to be comfortable with their sexuality without fearing discrimination. Natalia has also planned a Pride Dance for LGBT+ high school students to create a safe school dance experience for everyone in the Mobile County district without enduring harassment. Because of complications, she has had to postpone the event from her initial goal. She is still working hard to make sure it goes through by the end of 2019.
Besides founding GSA in her school, Natalia co-organized a sister march for March For Our Lives in her city. She helped organize a school walkout against gun violence and gave a speech at both events. She has also placed in various contests such as science fair, history day, and speech contests. Natalia is notably involved in her high school band program, composing her own music and playing multiple instruments including alto saxophone, flute, and ukulele. In addition to these extracurricular activities, Natalia maintains her academics in the International Baccalaureate program.
Natalia has always strived to be the best version of herself and utilizes her experiences to improve her future decisions. Her parents have committed immense sacrifices for her and her siblings, and so, Natalia’s primary goal is to give back to her parents and family by making them and herself proud with all her accomplishments, dedication, and hard work.
Angelmai Truong Glen Allen, VA
Angelmai is an International Baccalaureate student at J.R. Tucker High School, where she has been in the program since the sixth grade. Despite being in a rigorous program, she continues to achieve as an Honor Roll student, overcoming all obstacles and adversities on her path towards success.
Over her high school career, Angelmai has developed a deep interest in the Spanish language, and is most proud of her achievements as the President of Spanish Club, where she has empowered members from all corners of the school to become engaged language and culture learners. Though she did not have much prior experience with leadership, Angelmai relentlessly worked to keep the club going by incorporating fun activities, such as breaking a piñata, conducting an Easter egg hunt, and teaching a variety of traditional crafts. She further cultivates her knowledge through the Spanish Honor Society and gains real-life experience by conversing with others at her workplace.
Outside of the academic environment, Angelmai is heavily involved in her school community. She is a cheerleader for varsity sports, acts in theatre productions, and manages the boys’ varsity soccer team. Angelmai has also contributed 300+ hours volunteering at her local hospital and an additional 300+ hours at a nursing home over many summers. For her personal enjoyment, Angelmai participates in her church’s TNTT Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement group, roller-skates, plays the guitar and piano, and loves to sing her heart out.
Angelmai’s drive to succeed is highly motivated by her family’s resilient nature. She often reflects back to her father’s stories of adversity from escaping the Vietnam War and integrating himself into American society with little experience with the English language. Angelmai believes that if her parents can face tremendous pressures and fatal threats and still emerge as the amazing people they are today, then the least she can do is make her family proud as a first generation scholar.
Aimé Turberville San Antonio, TX
"Proud but never satisfied" is Aimé’s life motto. Her dedication to making her family proud and succeeding despite obstacles has allowed Aimé to grow both personally and academically. Her struggles to learn English as she began school empowered Aimé to master both English and Spanish, beginning her knack for language and desire for mutual understanding. As the first U.S.-born amongst her family of immigrants from Mexico, Aimé has seen much disparity and discrimination. Inspired by the legacy her grandfather left behind after years of fighting for his family, Aimé continues to flourish as both a leader and a student, actively engaging her community and creating a better future for all.
In 2017, Aimé was selected as a U.S. Youth Ambassador with the U.S. State Department, where she traveled to Colombia, representing the United States at the embassy and in various volunteering endeavors. This experience gave her the wings and the inspiration for her life direction: foreign service.
Not long after, Aimé started her own youth program, EngageMe, that builds youth leadership, engagement, and advocacy, providing training in life skills and education for civic engagement. This program is Aimé’s biggest passion project, occupying her with event planning and providing leadership workshops to EngageMe youth and community members.
When not busy running EngageMe, Aimé can almost always be found writing poetry, dancing and singing, or doing her hobby of the month. With an active mind, Aimé takes great pleasure in trying new creative activities such as crocheting, learning ASL, or even calligraphy. Aimé’s eclectic interests has allowed her to expand her social circle, becoming a true social butterfly. Her biggest cheerleader? Her mom. No matter how big Aimé’s dreams and goals may be, her mom encourages Aimé to lead with strength, compassion, and humility, always becoming the best version of herself. Aimé owes everything to her family, and intends to leave a legacy they can be proud of.
Cora Wen Houston, TX
Since a child, Cora has been highly motivated to navigate through the obstacles in her life with a bright smile on her face. To this day, Cora is continuously learning from those around her and working towards inspiring others with the same bright smile.
Cora is immensely proud of serving as Vice President of her school's Interact Club, where she has led several service projects that were able to collectively raise over $33,000 to alleviate issues that plague other communities internationally. Cora’s passion combined with her abilities to lead efficiently has helped the members of the club have fun exploring other cultures while surpassing their goal of raising $10,000.
As an active member of her community, Cora has devoted over 320 hours to volunteering at the Chinese Community Center where she works with children 12 years and under. She has also obtained a Congressional Award in recognition of her hard work and is a recipient of the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim scholarship that will allow her to travel throughout Israel for a month to volunteer at several elementary schools. Cora is a gifted writer and has received a Gold Key and the American Voices Nomination from the Scholastic Art & Writing awards for her heartfelt memoir titled ‘Jin’. Cora has also spent a summer interning at the headquarters of her school district to learn more about the inner workings of the business and finance departments. Additionally, as the Vice-President of the National Honor Society at her school, she has helped organize several events that encouraged the unity and involvement of the students at her school. For example, she facilitated a blood drive partnered with Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in honor of a student that was diagnosed with the blood condition lymphoma at a young age.
Cora’s ambition stems from observing the hard-working nature of her parents. They were both immigrants from China and were the first of their many siblings to ever leave the country. She was constantly inspired by their ability to endure economic hardships with nothing less than a smile on their face. Today, she is still actively seeking out opportunities that would bring her one step closer to achieving her current dream of becoming a first-generation college student.
Cindy Yan Baldwin Park, CA
Cindy’s last name, Yan, in Chinese means “colorful” - her personality reflecting precisely that sentiment. As an optimistic and persistent person, Cindy never lets the fear of failing deter her from achieving her goals. Through her countless conversations, smiles, and hugs, she continues to inspire many youths and those around her to be positive and confident.
Cindy’s greatest achievement was being selected as Captain of her lacrosse team. As a first-year team, everyone was learning from scratch. Although it was not a role that she intended to obtain, the title of Captain fell into her hands. Speaking with the team and the coach, she found out that she was chosen as a captain because she led through actions and words of encouragement. This is considered her greatest achievement because it was not academic or anything she could study for; it was an achievement of personality and leadership.
Additionally, Cindy is involved in many other extracurricular activities. She is a member of her school’s National Honor Society and the President and Club Representative of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) club. Her love for sports can be seen through her commitment to volleyball, swimming, and lacrosse. As a daughter of Chinese immigrants, Cindy values education, volunteering hundreds of hours at the Los Angeles Chinatown Youth Center. She tutors elementary school students, most of which are recent immigrants, at the Chinatown Youth Center and at her own high school as a math tutor. Throughout her high school career, Cindy has remained in the Top 10 rank of her graduating class while earning the Excellence in World Language Award and the Excellence in Mathematics Award.
Cindy’s inspiration in life stems from those around her, especially her best friend. Together, they have overcome physical, mental, and emotional hardships in the short time they have known each other. It was not until this year that Cindy realized what she was passionate about: after attending a Washington DC trip in January, Cindy realized that she wanted to make an impact on the world politically, to defend and support basic human rights. Cindy plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science and establish a successful nonprofit organization to provide aid for refugees.
Victor Ye Hacienda Heights, CA
"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." --Coretta Scott King
After being awarded the National Ben Carson Scholarship, Victor has increased his involvement in changing his community for the better. He appreciates his family, friends, and school faculty for helping him become the person he is today.
Victor is most proud of founding his global 501(C)(3) education nonprofit, InnovaYouth, which empowers students to become community changemakers through research, collaboration, and communication. InnovaYouth has expanded to over 15 states and 3 countries, and directly impacted over 7,000 students. Victor has accumulated over 600 hours of community service and has presented over 25 workshops through InnovaYouth's partnership with the Los Angeles County of Parks and Recreations. He was awarded the 2019 International Diana Award for creating and sustaining positive social change in memory of Princess Diana.
Victor was also elected to the National Council of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) as the Western Region Communications Director, serving over 25,000 members in 10 states. His work has connected thousands of FBLA members together on community service projects and assisted the planning of FBLA state and national conferences.
As an avid violinist, Victor has had the chance to play for the Vatican Cardinal in the Italian Pantheon, the French government in La Madeleine Church, and for Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan. Victor was also Mock Trial Prosecution Attorney and Model United Nations (MUN) President and awarded Best Delegate at USC MUN.
Victor hopes to study economics and philosophy in the future, and aspires to become a lawyer, fighting for equality among all people. He intends to further his public service career by running for public office and leading the country as the first Asian American President of the United States. As a first-generation student, Victor believes that anyone who has grit, courage, and perseverance has the power to achieve the American Dream.