Tomorrow is a new day. Meet the youth who are ready to lead it.

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Sara, 16

I was raised in the church, and one of God’s principles is prioritizing people in need. While serving on my YouthBoard, I learned this drive exists in other teenagers. This ingrains hope in me for the future where we can collectively combat social issues within each other, that can then extend to people in need globally. YouthRoots showed me the strength of youth voice which I can now see in my daily life.

There is so much need in today’s world. During the pandemic, I’m working with a friend to help the homeless community of Denver by making care packages of food and sanitary supplies. Socially, the Black Lives Matter movement is gaining prominence, and injustices are being exposed everywhere. It’s not a time to be silent, and YouthRoots taught me it never is (besides taking the time to stop, listen, and learn). Everything is a work in progress, but I will be part of it.

Phil, 23

No action is too small when it comes to making a difference in the world. This concept was one of my key takeaways from YouthRoots. Leadership doesn’t always require an extroverted personality; it comes in various forms. I learned that I could catalyze change while being true to who I am – a leader who excels at supporting others and works behind-the-scenes to drive progress. This insight guided me while pursuing a degree in Chemical & Biological Engineering and as a Marketing Coordinator for the BOLD Center – a community dedicated to supporting underrepresented students. Since graduating, I’ve also begun to work on a new nonprofit that aims to reduce the consequences of deforestation. With Forest Oasis, anyone would be able to purchase their own tree, obtain specific coordinates, and rent out a camping area with their tree nearby. These rentals would generate the revenue needed for self-sustainability.

Abbie, 25

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018, I have spent most of my time living and working in Latin America, where I developed an interest in the intersection between law, immigration, and transnational organized crime. In southern Mexico, I worked on a human rights and legal assistance team at a migrant shelter, where I handled asylum cases. In Medellin, Colombia, I worked for an investigative think tank that researches organized crime and security in Latin America. I am now pursuing a JD/MSFS dual degree at Georgetown University. As a former YouthRoots participant, I cultivated an early interest in civic engagement and community work, which influenced my later involvement in international human rights work. YouthRoots builds confident leaders who become skilled in negotiation and critical thinking regarding social issues in their home communities. YouthRoots played a formative role in my personal development in high school, which had a positive future impact on my professional development in college and beyond.

Janaye, 22

I’m going into my fifth year at CSU studying Biomedical & Electrical Engineering, minoring in Ethnic Studies. I’m interested in global/public health, with a focus on advocacy for underserved/marginalized communities both in the US and abroad. YouthRoots was one of the first opportunities I had to advocate for causes and communities that mattered to me. I began to develop the skills for conducting needs assessments and additional research to ensure that I could understand the cause and present it to others in a way that they understood. I’ve fallen back on those skills a lot recently. They’ve served me in battles for changes at CSU, specifically enabling me to research and draft demands for administration to improve their value and treatment of students of color. I learned to appreciate the power of advocacy, and having the skills of communicating across difference/discomfort has become vital for me. I’ve learned to strategically approach how I advocate for Black Lives (mine included) by appealing to shared values within different groups/people. On a personal and professional level, I owe much of my growth to YouthRoots. I learned to use the platform and access that I’ve been given to lift others as I climb.

Meme, 22

I’m a recent graduate of University of Colorado Boulder in Integrative Physiology. During my sophomore year, I co-founded a nonprofit to reallocate excess resources from campus dining halls to support our community members experiencing homelessness. Our project began with two friends rounding up donations and spending our weekends packing and distributing on foot. We have grown significantly and have raised thousands of dollars worth of food to help feed hundreds of people. I also served on the executive board of the Black Student Alliance where I organized a tour for 500 middle school students from underserved communities and worked to create sustainable and equitable policy changes. As a student who struggled with food insecurity, faced many unknowns about college, and worked multiple jobs tirelessly just to make it through college, I wanted to do something to support others in their journey. YouthRoots taught me there’s always something you can do about a problem. Now whether or not you do something is up to you.

Tenzing, 20

I am currently a third year student pursuing Neuroscience research at Loyola University. My main area of focus is bringing equity to our research publications, ensuring we are representing the communities we intend to support. I am also working with a college enrichment program called “Empowerment Pipeline,” which focuses on the school-to-prison pipeline, dismantling policing systems and other barriers in schools to uplift and uncover opportunities for Chicago youth. Finally, I am working with my own community members in my culture to provide translation, cultural practice, and neurological approach to geneticists working out of my home village in Nepal. I hope to provide a bioethical framing of research on indigenous communities such as my own. YouthRoots found a way to encourage my passions in ways that didn’t seem possible, and for that I am grateful.

Alyssa HornyakTomorrow is a new day. Meet the youth who are ready to lead it.