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Myles Noel

Myles Noel

Hometown: Norfolk, VA

high school: Norview HS

college: MIT

MAJOR: Chemistry

Myles‌ ‌Noel‌ ‌was‌ ‌born‌ ‌to‌ ‌two‌ ‌immigrants‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌islands‌ ‌of‌ ‌Trinidad‌ ‌and‌ ‌Tobago.‌ ‌Being‌ ‌a‌ ‌first‌ ‌generation‌ ‌child,‌ ‌he‌ ‌was‌ ‌taught‌ ‌at‌ ‌an‌ ‌early‌ ‌age‌ ‌the‌ ‌value‌ ‌of‌ ‌scholarship‌ ‌and‌ ‌his‌ ‌education‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌importance‌ ‌they‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌success‌ ‌in‌ ‌this‌ ‌country.‌ ‌From‌ ‌a‌ ‌young‌ ‌age,‌ ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌ingrained‌ ‌into‌ ‌his‌ ‌mind‌ ‌to‌ ‌pursue‌ ‌his‌ ‌education‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌highest‌ ‌degree‌ ‌possible,‌ ‌and‌ ‌that‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌his‌ ‌goal‌ ‌ever‌ ‌since.‌ ‌ ‌

Myles‌ ‌attends‌ ‌Norview‌ ‌High‌ ‌School‌ ‌in‌ ‌Norfolk‌ ‌Virginia‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌part‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Leadership‌ ‌Center‌ ‌for‌ ‌Science‌ ‌and‌ ‌Engineering‌ ‌(LCSE)‌ ‌program.‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌actively‌ ‌involved‌ ‌in‌ ‌school‌ ‌by‌ ‌participating‌ in ‌clubs‌ ‌ranging‌ ‌from‌ ‌Varsity‌ ‌Tennis,‌ ‌Scholastic‌ ‌Bowl,‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History‌ ‌Bowl,‌ ‌Model‌ ‌Judiciary,‌ ‌Model‌ ‌UN,‌ ‌NJROTC,‌ ‌and‌ ‌Chamber‌ ‌Orchestra.‌ ‌ ‌‌

Myles‌ ‌grew‌ ‌up‌ ‌fascinated‌ ‌with‌ ‌history,‌ ‌especially‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History.‌ ‌At‌ ‌his‌ ‌elementary‌ ‌school,‌ ‌an‌ ‌entire‌ ‌section‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌library‌ ‌was‌ ‌dedicated‌ ‌to‌ ‌famous‌ ‌figures‌ ‌of‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History.‌ ‌This‌ ‌section‌ ‌was‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌found‌ ‌his‌ ‌inspiration‌ ‌through‌ ‌figures‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌Dr.‌ ‌Martin‌ ‌Luther‌ ‌King‌ ‌Jr.,‌ ‌Malcolm‌ ‌X,‌ ‌Muhammad‌ ‌Ali,‌ ‌Mae‌ ‌Jamison,‌ ‌and‌ ‌Barack‌ ‌Obama.‌ ‌This‌ ‌interest‌ ‌stuck‌ ‌with‌ ‌him‌ ‌into‌ ‌high‌ ‌school,‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌captain‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌school’s‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History‌ ‌Bowl‌ ‌team.‌ ‌While‌ ‌being‌ ‌a‌ ‌part‌ ‌of‌ ‌this‌ ‌club,‌ Myles‌ ‌noticed‌ ‌that‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History‌ ‌Is‌ ‌a‌ ‌very‌ ‌under taught‌ ‌and‌ ‌overlooked‌ ‌history‌ ‌at‌ ‌his‌ ‌school.‌ ‌Therefore,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌decided‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌the‌ ‌club‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌platform‌ ‌to‌ ‌inform‌ ‌the‌ ‌rest‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌school‌ ‌of‌ ‌this‌ ‌history.‌ ‌Through‌ ‌the‌ ‌recruitment‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌diverse‌ ‌group‌ ‌of‌ ‌individuals,‌ ‌he‌ ‌and‌ ‌his‌ ‌team‌ ‌were‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌enlighten‌ ‌his‌ ‌school’s‌ ‌student‌ ‌body‌ ‌of‌ ‌this history.‌ ‌Furthermore, ‌the‌ ‌success‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌team‌ ‌as‌ ‌five‌ ‌time‌ ‌state‌ ‌champions‌ ‌helped‌ ‌instill‌ ‌change‌ ‌within‌ ‌the‌ ‌school‌ ‌and‌ ‌school‌ ‌district,‌‌where‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌Seminar‌ ‌are‌ ‌being‌ ‌introduced‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌class‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌school’s‌ ‌offerings.‌ ‌‌

Myles’‌ ‌true‌ ‌passion‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌with‌ ‌science.‌ ‌Ever‌ ‌since‌ ‌he‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌kid,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌interested‌ ‌in‌ ‌how‌ ‌the‌ ‌universe‌ ‌works.‌ ‌This‌ ‌interest‌ ‌came‌ ‌from‌ ‌a‌ ‌collection‌ ‌of‌ ‌books‌ ‌his‌ ‌mother‌ ‌gave‌ ‌him‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌natural‌ ‌sciences,‌ ‌books‌ ‌that‌ ‌he‌ ‌still‌ ‌holds‌ ‌to‌ ‌this‌ ‌day.‌ ‌From‌ ‌these‌ ‌experiences,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌decided‌ ‌that‌ ‌he‌ ‌wanted‌ ‌to‌ ‌go‌ ‌to‌ ‌space.‌ ‌Sophomore‌ ‌year,‌ ‌he‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌part‌ ‌of‌ ‌Virginia‌ ‌Space‌ ‌Coast‌ ‌Scholars,‌ ‌a‌ ‌program‌ ‌that‌ ‌took‌ ‌place‌ ‌at‌ ‌Wallops‌ ‌Flight‌ ‌Facility‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌group‌ ‌of‌ ‌students‌ ‌planned‌ ‌a‌ ‌mock‌ ‌mission‌ ‌for‌ ‌NASA.‌ ‌Junior‌ ‌year,‌ ‌he‌ ‌did‌ ‌a‌ ‌similar‌ ‌program‌ ‌called‌ ‌Virginia‌ ‌Aerospace‌ ‌Science‌ ‌and‌ ‌Technology‌ ‌Scholars‌ ‌at‌ ‌Langley‌ ‌Research‌ ‌Center.‌ ‌‌

Using‌ ‌these‌ ‌experiences,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌hopes‌ ‌to‌ ‌attend‌ ‌the‌ ‌Massachusetts‌ ‌Institute‌ ‌of‌ ‌Technology‌ ‌to‌ ‌study‌ ‌chemistry‌ ‌to‌ ‌its‌ ‌terminal‌ ‌degree.‌ ‌He‌ ‌aspires‌ ‌to‌ ‌become‌ ‌a‌ ‌Research‌ ‌Chemist‌ ‌and‌ ‌eventually‌ ‌a‌ ‌Mission‌ ‌Specialist‌ ‌for‌ ‌NASA.‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌hopes‌ ‌to‌ ‌serve‌ ‌as‌ ‌an‌ ‌example‌ ‌to‌ ‌other‌ ‌people‌ ‌of‌ ‌color‌ ‌by‌ ‌becoming‌ ‌a‌ ‌leader‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌field‌ ‌of‌ ‌STEM.‌ ‌However,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌ultimately‌ ‌hopes‌ ‌to‌ ‌carry‌ ‌on‌ ‌his‌ ‌parents‌ ‌dreams,‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌them‌ ‌proud‌ ‌and‌ ‌make‌ ‌the‌ ‌sacrifices‌ ‌they‌ ‌made‌ ‌coming‌ ‌to‌ ‌this‌ ‌country‌ ‌worthwhile.‌

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Rickey McGregor, III

Rickey McGregor, III

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

high school: Saint Bernard HS

college: University of California, Berkeley

MAJOR: Business

Rickey McGregor, III was born on December 29th, 2001 in South Central Los Angeles. There are two sides to Rickey: the business-savvy future billionaire side, and the philanthropic, community-driven side.

From an early age, Rickey was always trying to make money. In early elementary school, he started his own lemonade stand, waking up on Saturday mornings and squeezing the juice out of lemons to make lemonade. As a young businessman, he was already examining how to cut costs; asking his neighbor for lemons from his tree. He soon realized that squeezing lemons was very tedious and time consuming, so he bought CountryTime lemonade powder, increasing his cost, but increasing his output allowing him to sell more cups. While running a lemonade stand was fun, it wasn’t enough; he wanted more.

While he was done with the lemonade stand, he wasn’t done making money. He found out that you can make money by recycling plastic and taking it to a collection center. He immediately thought he had just found the easiest way to make money. He collected the recyclables from his house, but he knew that wasn’t enough to make a substantial profit. He reached out to family members and asked them to save their recyclables for him. His only expense was the U-Haul he had to rent to transport the bottles.

During his freshman year, he decided to start a barbering service. Self-taught, Rickey even went bald practicing on himself. His barbering service was more fulfilling to him because he built it from nothing. He had to develop his skills and learn how to market his product. But the money he began to make helped him develop a sense of how broad business can be. He started learning about the stock market, real estate investment, venture capitalism, and hedge funds and realized that he wanted to be more than an entrepreneur.

But Rickey isn’t just a business-man; he’s a man with a passion to help his community. Growing up in South-Central, he saw and endured a lot. His grandfather died in a drug deal. He has an uncle who was homeless and addicted to crack and a cousin who is addicted to meth. His grandmother overdosed on opioids. He has an older brother and uncle in jail, the latter which has been in for sixty years. Rickey realized from an early age how his community was trapped in a cycle of drugs, gangs, and hopelessness. It was this, along with a family dedicated to service that awoke Rickey’s desire to change his community in a radical way. He watched his mom work at inner-city public schools for years, many of which post rates similar to 32% reading proficiency and 5% math proficiency, which are the rates at his local public school and his dad run a disguised mentoring program for at-risk, inner-city youth called iMentorGlobal, both of which don’t pay very much. He watched his grandmother who, despite her issues, spend her own money to make lunches for the homeless. He knew that despite the financial sacrifices, they worked for something bigger than themselves, and he knew he must continue.

Rickey is unsure of what college he will attend, but he plans to major in business and public affairs. In order to make major changes, economic and political power is needed. Business fulfills his interest and helps make economic change, while public affairs gives him the knowledge necessary to influence policy and create his own programs.

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Samuel Mumford, Jr.

Samuel Mumford, Jr.

Hometown: Baltimore , MD

high school: McDonogh School

college: University of Pennsylvania

MAJOR: Business Analytics

Samuel Mumford Jr. was born October 6, 2001 in Baltimore, MD. Since the age of five, Sam’s paternal grandmother has raised him due to the unfortunate circumstances of his parents. Sam’s grandmother instilled discipline, respect, and hard work into him as she believed these qualities would lead to his becoming successful, but more importantly, a man of integrity.

Sam began his pursuit of academic excellence at Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School. During his summer years of elementary school, Sam participated in Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth where his interest in math and science first developed. At Mount Royal, Sam was in the Ingenuity Project, an advanced science and math program, where he received recognition for his hard work in the classroom. Sam also began to express his athletic interest at Mount Royal, playing flag football, basketball and running track and field.

In middle school, Sam participated in Middle Grades Partnership, a summer enrichment program at McDonogh School. The decision to attend McDonogh for high school was not Sam’s, but rather his grandmother’s. Although it was against his wishes, going to McDonogh turned out to be one of the most important decisions of his life. Initially, Sam had difficulties transitioning into such a drastically different community, but through time he adjusted and became comfortable within the community. McDonogh granted Sam the chance to interact with a diverse selection of people and the opportunity and resources to fully express his academic interests. Sam maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school, consistently being named to the Dean’s List,  and was a Questbridge College Prep Scholar and Questbridge National College Match Finalist. Outside of the classroom, Sam was a leader of Sankofa (McDonogh’s Black Awareness Club) and captain of the track and field team for two years. 

Sam will attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School where he will study Business Analytics. After college, he plans to become an entrepreneur in an effort to bring opportunities and jobs back to the diminished communities he has passed through. Providing people with the opportunity to better themselves is Sam’s way of giving back.

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Travis Johnson

Travis Johnson

Hometown: Lynchburg, SC

high school: Crestwood HS

college: Harvard College

MAJOR: Government / Political Science

Travis Johnson was born on November 19, 2001 and has lived in Lynchburg, South Carolina his entire life. The youngest of five children, Travis grew up in an economically challenged area and personally witnessed the detrimental effects of a flawed criminal justice system within his community. In return, Travis developed a keen interest in seeking social and economic justice and equality through politics, business and law. Despite not coming from an affluent area, Travis fundamentally believes that the values of faith, hard work, dedication and persistence create the recipe for success in life. Travis works diligently to maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA. Not only does he strive for success, but Travis works to ensure that other individuals with similar life circumstances are able to rise above any obstacles.

After watching the results of the 2008 Presidential Election, Travis was inspired and developed an interest in politics and public service. To cultivate his desire to provide selfless representation to the greatest amount of people, Travis has served in a variety of elected positions, including Freshman President, Sophomore President, Junior President and Senior Vice President. As the Sophomore President, in response to recent tragic events, Travis wanted to highlight the ways in which students could become politically engaged. As a result, he successfully planned and held a school safety forum which featured several statewide elected officials who answered students’ questions. Travis served as the 2018-2019 Senior Adviser on the South Carolina High School Democrats’ Executive Board, where he connected several students with local campaign internships and registered students to vote. During Travis’ junior year, he was selected to attend the prestigious United States Senate Youth Program. As part of this program, Travis met with various federal officials, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, President of the United States, and numerous Senators. Finally, this summer Travis attended Palmetto Boys State and Boys Nation, where he met with the Vice President of the United States and served in multiple elected roles.

Upon entering high school, Travis joined the world’s largest career student business organization: Future Business Leaders of America. Travis climbed the ladder of the organization, serving two terms as a State President and the National President’s Chief of Staff. In July 2019, Travis was elected to represent the 250,000+ members of FBLA as the first African-American National President. As part of this role, Travis sits on the National Board of Directors, analyzes membership data, and spearheads the development of new projects and initiatives. One such initiative, the National Uniform Challenge, was designed to provide professional attire to members in need across the nation.

Travis maintains an integral presence in his community by serving as a mentor to younger individuals, and is extremely active in his church. This fall, Travis will attend Harvard College and pursue a concentration in Government. After college, Travis intends to attend law school to provide representation to underprivileged citizens. As a Ron Brown Scholar, Travis is excited to put service above self and open doors for others.

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Yasmine Mabene

Since she was young, Yasmine Mabene always dreamed of growing up to be someone who would one day change the world. As a first generation American whose parents immigrated from Cameroon, Yasmine grew up experiencing a unique blend of American and African culture. The importance of community was strongly emphasized throughout her childhood and reflects in the actions she took to improve the lives of those around her. Whether it is the summers she spends running activities at a camp for homeless youth, or the classroom discussions she leads with younger students on healthy lifestyle choices, Yasmine continuously strives to make a positive impact. She is a strong leader within her campus as an officer in Peer Counseling, President of the California Scholarship Federation, and both Treasurer and Secretary of National Honor Society. Beyond dedicating hours of her time to serving others, Yasmine discovered her passion for fighting for social justice. Heavily influenced by her parents who were born right after the liberation and subsequent political turmoil in Cameroon, activism is in her blood. In addition to leading rallies, town halls, and demonstrations, Yasmine has visited both her State Capitol and the nation’s Capital to speak with politicians on issues that are important to her. She is the State Director of March for Our Lives California, a youth organization in the gun violence prevention movement and the Social Media Director of Earth Uprising, an international youth led organization that works to fight climate change through education. Through this work, Yasmine has found that she has been able to build a community with people from all around the world, something she finds essential in initiating transformative change. 

Yasmine has always found herself holding a wide variety of interests. Her never ending love for music allowed her to perform in Carnegie Hall but also in more intimate settings such as retirement homes and the oncology department of the hospital she shadowed in. Yasmine’s interest in the STEM field allowed her to participate in research involving pain detection and address racial disparities in healthcare while her involvement at Johns Hopkins Public Health Institute gave her the opportunity to study policy and the disproportionate effect that gun violence has on communities of color.

Yasmine hopes to further explore these interests next fall at Stanford University, to continue taking part in research that can be implemented to benefit communities, and perhaps, achieve her childhood dream along the way.

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Aissata Bah

Aissata Bah

Hometown: Lithonia, GA

high school: Phillips Academy

college: Harvard College

MAJOR: Social Studies

Aissata Bah’s story begins in her mother’s hair salon. Born and raised in the outskirts of Atlanta, Aissata watched in awe at her parents’ kindness and desire to create safe spaces despite the challenges that they faced as Guinean immigrants. It was within those salon walls that Aissata recognized the importance of storytelling in empowering communities and inspiring change.

As a low-income student who attended various under-resourced public institutions before enrolling in Phillips Academy, one of the nation’s top private and boarding schools, Aissata recognizes how improbable her educational journey has been. With the help of Atlanta-based enrichment program Reach for Excellence and through her 7th-grade admittance into the Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar Program, Aissata “beat the odds.” Both programs have been instrumental in widening Aissata’s knowledge of the opportunities that await her and granting her access to the education that she believes every student deserves.

When first adjusting to Phillips Academy, Aissata gravitated to extracurriculars that made her feel connected to her home community that was now a thousand miles away. Aissata’s experience as a racial and socioeconomic minority led her to create discursive spaces and mediums for students of marginalized identities to tell their stories. Through her roles as the head coordinator of a mentorship program for Black and Latinx students, a balance-and-inclusion curriculum developer and teacher, and the Chief Financial Officer of the student newspaper, Aissata is committed to amplifying marginalized students’ voices and making her campus more equitable. Aissata also aims to support students who do not have the access to the resources that they need to reach their maximum potential, like she once did, and partnered with the Youth Development Organization her sophomore year to create a program that introduces students in her nearby school community to real-life applications of math.

In the summer after creating her community program, Aissata had the opportunity to attend the Telluride Association’s Sophomore Seminar on “The Culture Politics of Race in Media and Literature” at the University of Michigan, where she developed a passion for exploring the intersections of research and activism. Aissata has written a research paper examining Black women’s agency and sexuality in Shonda Rhimes’ television shows and created digital media content under the hashtag “#StopSolitary” to raise awareness of the cruelty of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons while working as an intern at the Dodd Center for Human Rights. Between her junior and senior year, Aissata also embarked on an independent research project where she wrote a thirty-page research paper analyzing the media’s erasure of Black women from activist movements.

Aissata believes that our collective progress towards social equality relies on our abilities to question the narratives brought in front of us. In the future, she hopes to harness the powers of traditional research, digital media, and film to draw attention to the realities of Black youth in low-income communities, celebrate their resilience, and ultimately incite the political change needed to dismantle the oppressive structures embedded within these communities.

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Antavion Moore

Antavion Moore

Hometown: Ringgold, LA

high school: Ringgold HS

college: Louisiana State University

MAJOR: Engineering

In a rural town riddled with issues of drugs, violence, racism, and poverty, Antavion has humbly answered the commonly asked question, “What good can come out of Ringgold, Louisiana?” It’s a question that was asked at his grandmother’s funeral which became motivation for his family to strive and prove that good things do come from Ringgold. This family mantra coupled with Antavion’s own personal philosophy of service is what has fueled him to achieve and accomplish all that he has academically, socially, and spiritually.

Antavion is well known throughout his community, school district, and state as a promising young individual who is committed to service and community betterment. His involvement in 4-H has had a significant impact on both his personal success and the improvement of the rural community he has been a part of his entire life. The local outreach and educational programs he has initiated, and assisted in developing, have reached thousands. His dedication to his volunteer roles at the United Pentecostal Church of Ringgold, where he serves in various ministries, including: media, worship team, men’s ministry, missions, youth group, etc. is also a testament to his spiritual faith and enthusiasm for civic empowerment.

Antavion has been a member of the Louisiana 4-H Executive Board for four years, and currently serves the over 186,000 members of the Louisiana 4-H program as State President, empowering young people and sharing the positive impact of youth development programs across the nation. He was chosen as a representative of Louisiana 4-H for the 2019 National 4-H Conference in Washington, DC, where he presented to the United States Department of Agriculture on cultivating the next generation of agricultural leaders. He was also selected as one of seven student members from across the country to serve on the 2019 National 4-H Congress Design Team.

As early as elementary school, Antavion gained a reputation for being an academically gifted student. He earned the honor of Bienville Parish “Student of the Year” in 5th grade, 8th grade, and is currently a finalist in the Louisiana State Student of the Year competition as a senior in high school. Through the dual-enrollment program, he has been able to attain an Associate’s Degree in General Studies, a Certificate of General Studies, a Certificate of Music, and will be completing his second Associates Degree in Performing Arts with a concentration in Music Production/Technology before he graduates high school as Valedictorian. He is currently a member of the National Beta Club and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Antavion hopes the achievements, awards, accolades and honors he has received throughout his life serve as an inspiration to students at Ringgold High School and beyond. He plans to study biomedical engineering, engage in research, participate in service-learning activities, and work with his colleagues to uphold sound values of public service by solving problems to improve the health of society.

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Christalyn Ausler

Christalyn Ausler

Hometown: Winnebago, IL

high school: Winnebago HS

college: Cornell University

MAJOR: Biochemistry

Christalyn Ausler was born in 2002 in Central Arkansas. She was born the last of five children, which gave her lots of chances and time to learn from her older sibling’s mistakes. As she ventured past her troublesome domestic life into the protection of the education system, at around five-years-old, she developed an affinity for reading and exploring the limits of the world’s knowledge in science and math fields. She often frequented her local libraries, checking out 6 to 15 books every two weeks. Through her turbulent childhood, extensive reading, and explorations in the world by way of television programs (such as National Discovery, Animal Planet, and PBS) and scientific libraries (such as NBIC, Nature, and ScienceDirect) she developed her life’s aspiration of creating a better environment and life for others, whether that was through philanthropy or biological discoveries.

Her aspiration of creating a higher quality of life for all humans translated itself into her never-ending research into the chemical pathways housed in the human body and began to oscillate around cancer and genetic mutations. She did not spend her entire childhood with her head in books though; before her freshman year in high school, she played basketball, was on her track team, played three instruments, was recognized in Duke TIP, participated in two UALR Engineering Olympics, and was an active volunteer in her community, and member of her BETA Club. Her aforementioned aspirations proved to be a linchpin when, during her transition to high school, her father relocated their family to Illinois, uprooting her efforts and plans. Her dreams exclusively carried her through the enduring experiences of her high school career.

With no security provided in her home, and no longer in school, she found jobs to provide herself with food, clothes, and school supplies. Even with her schedule saturated with work, homework, and her attempts to overcome the mental scars from her childhood, she still found time to mentor, tutor, and volunteer in her community, research her budding ideas on cancer, and graduate high school with an Associate Degree of Science with 75 college credits. She even worked to secure herself a seat in a chemistry course at Harvard University’s Secondary Schooling Program in the summer of 2019. She is now a badged recipient of the Illinois State Scholar honor, a proud member of her chapter’s National Honor Society, and a seasoned Student Government member at Rock Valley College.

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Craig McFarland

Craig McFarland

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL

high school: Stanton College Preparatory School

college: Harvard College

MAJOR: Molecular & Cellular Biology and Linguistics

Craig McFarland is a high school senior of Stanton College Preparatory School and was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. Although he has already attained an endless list of perfect achievements, scholarships, and perfect scores, Craig describes his past as flawed yet something he wouldn’t change for the world. He was raised by his mother and immigrants in a single-parent household while facing financial hardships as a result of his family being low-income. In his earlier years, his mother worked multiple jobs while trying to earn her Associate’s Degree in order to provide for her three kids. In his 18 years, Craig has already moved thirteen times before his family finally had the means to buy their own house. Through his disadvantaged experiences in his childhood, Craig strives for success in order to help those who, too, have been born profoundly disadvantaged.

Despite such obstacles, Craig soon began to become the embodiment of academic and personal success. Craig is the valedictorian of his high school and will be graduating with the highest weighted GPA and number of credits attained by a senior at Stanton. In addition, Craig has received numerous perfect scores on his standardized tests and constantly strives to perfect any and every academic subject that he encounters. Craig has been featured by the New York Times twice, has been included in more than one hundred publications, and has given talks to kids and parents around the world. Notably, Craig received international recognition after having been accepted into all the Ivy League universities, Stanford, and all other schools to which he applied.

To many, Craig has become a leader and role model – a student who excels academically, athletically, and socially. Craig is an active member of his schools running club, Marathon High, and is a varsity sprinter on his school’s Track & Field team. Throughout high school, Craig has been the leader of multiple clubs, including Co-President of Debate Club, President of his school’s environmental activism club, Team Captain of multiple academic teams like Ethics Bowl, and an officer of many more. In addition, from winning the Florida state High School Ethics Bowl championship, numerous Gold Seals of Biliteracy, and 1st Place in public speaking competitions to receiving a Scholastic Gold Key for his Senior Writing Portfolio and becoming a National Merit Finalist & Scholar, Craig has never been short of achieving success.

Although Craig takes pride in his academic achievements, he cares more about his passions and who he is and has become as a person. Coming from Stanton College Preparatory School – a highly competitive high school where he felt the administration cared little about the students and often swept issues such as mental health, racism, and administrative foul play under the rug – Craig has come to care more about issues such as justice and education. His personability and amiable character are also seen within his own high school, most notably with how he won the title of Homecoming Prince. Craig, as part of the LGBTQ community himself, is a fervent advocate for LGBTQ and women’s rights. Among his passion for social activism, he can be found listening to all of Lorde’s and Forrest.’s discography, watching Adventure Time and Game of Thrones, or eating sushi with his close friends. His most remarkable passion, however, is his love of languages: through his linguistic love, Craig, in addition to his proficiency in English, Tagalog and Ilocano, would become fluent in both French in Spanish and begin to learn Arabic, Italian, and other languages. In fact, in his senior year of high school, Craig was able to skip six years of Spanish and immediately take IB Spanish 6 due to his acquired proficiency in the language in just one summer. In college, Craig hopes to expand his knowledge of languages while furthering his passions in calculus, philosophy & ethics, biochemistry, and law.

Craig will be attending Harvard University in the Fall. After undergraduate school, Craig strives to attend either law school or medical school. Although unsure of his future profession, he hopes of going into a profession where he can effect true change. When asked what was his biggest aspiration in life, he immediately remarked “to be a good father” – a true testament to the unique heart of Craig McFarland

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Imani Gunnison

Imani Gunnison

Hometown: Conyers, GA

high school: Heritage HS

college: Amherst College

MAJOR: Education Studies

Imani Gunnison was born in Georgia and still resides there as the second oldest of 8 siblings and with her two parents. At an early age, her parents instilled in her the importance of education and Imani has adopted that as her own personal value. Knowing that she had to work hard to create a better life for her and her family, Imani devoted herself to studying and constant personal enrichment.

From an early age, Imani has had a hunger for knowledge. She read any book she could and asked any question that came to mind. Imani has also had a passion for helping others. She saw the way her parents gave selflessly to others whether that be by letting a homeless woman live with the family or run fall festivals for the local elementary school to raise money. From that point on, Imani knew that regardless of what she would do in her life, it would have to be helping others. She started by volunteering in her Kindergarten class to teach the other students sight words and from then on, she knew that education was her calling.

Imani has pursued her passion by volunteering in elementary school classes and working as a teaching assistant at a tutoring center. She was also chosen to be a member of the Georgia Department of Education Student Advisory Council. Through these activities, she gained a greater understanding of the differences and disparity in the education system which increased her drive to promote change. Realizing that one must understand the students to be an effective educator, Imani talked to as many students as possible. She learned about their life, their stories, and why they thought they could or could not excel. She learned that many children don’t have confidence in themselves and coupled with a lack of resources, they often don’t succeed.

One reason for the low self esteem was a lack of representation. Seeing the lack of ethnic minorities in school curriculum, Imani found her own resources. Fluency exercises and word problems now reflected stories and heroes the students never would have thought existed. She showed her students prominent people in history who looked like them to show them that there was no reason they couldn’t do the same thing. She attended a Comfortable in Your Own Skin (C.I.Y.O.S) conference to better educate herself on how to help herself and others. She hopes to pursue more of these endeavors in the future.

In her undergraduate education, Imani plans to study Psychology and Spanish and go on to graduate school to study Education and Psychology. She will get a teacher’s certification to work in public schools but go on to run her own school with a more diverse approach to history and language acquisition. Imani hopes to be a change agent to help her community and to show every person she encounters that regardless of any circumstance you can live out your dreams and fulfill your destiny.

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