The purpose of the Ambassador Program is to foster learning and civic engagement through community service, volunteerism and leadership in highly motivated and mature Young Scholars. The following group represents the 2019 class of Young Scholar Ambassadors. Please take a moment to learn about their service projects, in their own words.
Read, watch late-night comedy and mystery movies/shows, play soccer (or do anything outdoors), sing, play piano & guitar, make videos, use stationery & lettering, hang out with family & friends, and learn and observe as much as possible!
Ever since I was very little, I have loved talking and working with people. By age 3, I was routinely teaching my stuffed animals and my little sister content that I had learned at “school” (and come up with independently). Eventually, by middle school, my loquaciousness and pseudo-leadership skills translated into helping my school’s principal tutor younger students, serving on student council for five years, and coaching and refereeing young soccer players. I also was privileged enough to deliver a TEDx talk on allergies in March 2017 at a conference at Sacred Heart Cathedral, a high school in San Francisco, CA.
Through my ambassador project, I have the opportunity to tie together a variety of my interests in a platform that has the potential to make a difference in the educational realm. I have started a program at a local YMCA where I conduct weekly after-school sessions, exposing students to a variety of topics (using multiple sources and forms of media and discussion-based learning), including current events, science, public-speaking skills and homework help. I focus on helping the students understand and analyze how the topics matter on a personal level and what opinions they form and why. Towards the end of the school year, I will organize a mini TED-style conference where the students can choose a topic they are passionate about and apply everything they have learned over the year to a short “talk” they create with my assistance. The end-goal is to expand this program to other YMCA branches and enable the older students I work with to also give back to their community by helping those younger than them craft their own mini-talks.
Sailing, tennis, traveling, fitness
Considering that 7% of the population will suffer from a rare genetic disease at some point in their lives, providing high school students with an understanding of genetics is critical to bring these diseases to the limelight in terms of medical care in the upcoming years. This statistic doesn’t even include carriers who now have been shown to occasionally have mild manifestations of these diseases in later life. Patient groups and small genetic disease charities continue to be vastly underfunded as the public are unaware of the suffering and trauma brought about by these diseases which affect patients and their families
My main goal for my project is to provide a general awareness of genetics and rare genetic diseases to high school students in my community by filming a video which I will distribute at school assemblies. I am also planning a Genetics convention for interested students where I will bring together a panel of genetic experts. I hope to foster a supportive atmosphere for sufferers of rare genetic diseases and their families by raising the profile of these diseases among London teenagers.
I like to play music, spend time with my family, do scientific research, and read.
This project aims to offer a scientific, comprehensive, and accessible anti-drug education of street and prescription drugs to adolescents. This will be comprised of media, such as videos and an interactive application, as well as presentations and interviews. I was inspired by a number of things when doing this project. First off, I was inspired by Caroline Hampton’s “Sit With Us” project, which stated that “a single person helped is still a difference made.” Also, I was inspired by my coach, who underwent drug addiction, and successfully recovered from his affliction. In essence, I just wish to make a difference in people’s lives using methods accessible to those I wish to help.
I enjoy a variety of extracurricular activities such as dance, debate, writing, and origami. One of my strongest passions is ballroom dancing. I dance with both standing partners and wheelchair partners. I debate for my high school and I write plays, stories, and poems. I am also intensely involved in research at the Luyendyk Lab at Michigan State University.
My DYA project, A Chance to Dance, aims to facilitate ballroom dance classes for wheelchair-bound middle- and high-school students and able-bodied middle- and high-school students volunteering as their standing partners in Southeastern and Central Michigan, and beyond. These classes will provide opportunities for wheelchair-bound teens to learn the essentials of ballroom dancing, exercise in a fun environment, enhance both their physical and emotional well-being, and develop skills and confidence to participate actively in school dances and other social activities that involve dancing. Regular contact in a friendly and fun atmosphere and engagement in a joint activity also has the capacity to help wheelchair-bound and able-bodied students to get to know each other as persons and thereby remove the barriers between wheelchair-bound and able-bodies students. This process seeks to bring psychological benefits to both partners.
Soccer, Tae Kwon Do, piano, videography, photography, and writing.
I was blessed to be on student-athlete FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics teams. We programmed, built, and developed project solutions together. During this experience, I traveled to St. Louis to compete in the World Championships and crossed the border into Tijuana to give a workshop to Mexican peers. Because FLL inspired me to enjoy doing engineering and programming, I want to share this fantastic program with other kids in the greater San Diego and Tijuana region that are resourced challenged. “FIRST Robotics for the Under-Resourced” is a program where I host workshops in local schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and community centers to teach Middle Schoolers about the programming and hardware aspects of FLL. I will develop a curriculum that focuses on step-by-step learning to facilitate greater knowledge retention. Each lesson will focus on a particular concept, such as “gyro sensors” or “touch sensors.” There will be a module on fundraising with tips on methods I used in the past, including public speaking, public and private sponsorship, and online crowdfunding. To supplement my workshops, I will create YouTube videos that will reflect my curriculum, but will be accessible to a wider audience!
The Orangutan Gang
I like to read, play piano and viola, and write.
I met Emma Freedman at my first ever Young Scholar Summit, a former Ambassador and the founder of Jungleheroes. When Emma told me about the palm oil issue, I wanted to help save the rainforest myself, and soon I founded the Orangutan Gang. Orangutans are endangered due to a demand for Palm Oil. Palm oil is an ingredient that can be found in 50% of grocery store merchandise. Palm oil demand creates deforestation, and deforestation destroys the habitat of many rainforest organisms, including orangutans.
My primary plan for the Orangutan Gang is the Zoo Project. One of the most communal places to learn about an environmental issue is the zoo. The Zoo Project’s goal is first to supply zoos across the country with information, posters and/or flyers to be displayed in primate houses, orangutan enclosures, or rainforest exhibits. The second objective is to discourage unsustainable palm oil use and/or offer palm oil free and sustainable options at zoo eateries. If the Zoo Project succeeds, millions of people will learn about the palm oil issue and what they can do to help, ultimately creating an undeniable opportunity to spread the word. My second plan, the Tutelage Project, is targeted towards teaching middle school students about the palm oil issue by writing and providing lesson plans to science teachers across the country. When pupils take home their knowledge, thousands of households will respond to this grave issue and spread the word throughout their communities, escalating the attentive population many times over. Considering the modern student-to-teacher ratio in the target population of middle school science classes, I’ll spread the word to an astonishing number of households through this project. I’ll also be working on several smaller projects, such as fundraising (through both merchandise and donations), contacting companies that use palm oil and spreading the word through more public appearances.
My website can be found at www.orangutangang.wordpress.com. Thank you for helping save the rainforest!
I love reading, cuddling with my cat, springboard \diving, and swimming. I love watching Star Wars and reading Harry Potter. I am a history buff.
canCode’s mission is to spark an interest in coding in all young children. canCode uses Scratch, a free online coding environment developed by MIT, with engaging and exciting lessons that allow children to create their own unique video games and projects. Teenagers, proficient in coding, are the teachers who will create the best experience possible for young children. I started canCode to share my own passion for coding.
I participate in competitive national circuit debate and travel around the country competing in tournaments. I also play high school baseball and enjoy swimming in the ocean.
When I went to my now deceased uncle’s retirement home, I noticed that almost everyone’s face lit up when I walked through the door. Seeing young people can be so rewarding for seniors living in retirement homes. Furthermore, many of these people struggle with reading and, as a result, often are unaware of what is going on in the world. I realized that having teenagers read to them would create a mutually beneficial relationship that fosters civic engagement.
I write, draw, read and listen to stories (Especially Harry Potter).
I was inspired to apply for the Young Ambassador’s Program a year ago. I had been a Young Scholar for a year then, and my passion for the environment was every bit as strong as it is now. When I didn’t find time to write an application, I decided to wait a year to try and get in. I had an entire year to decide my project, and I went through several ideas while trying to come up with the perfect one. Among these were environmental books, game clubs and even a kid’s organization, all the while thinking about combining my love of writing with my passion for the environment. Another element that I felt strongly about was kid’s activism, and the idea that kids could accomplish things in environmentalism just as adults could. So when one day my mom presented the idea of an environmental newsletter for all ages, I felt that it was the right way to go. Now that idea is an Ambassador project and I hope that it can be up and running by the time the eighteen months are over.
You can find my first newsletter on my website helpsierra.com.
I love playing with my pet kitten, I enjoy reading, watching movies, and working on my robotics team tasks, apart from playing the piano, and singing.
My Project Motion for the Ocean targets to bring awareness to children on the impacts of marine debris to the ocean and its marine life. Although efforts are being made to educate adults on marine debris, the children and youth are not aware and felt that we need to address the issue of marine debris even before young children grow into adults. “Catch them young” and embed the respect for the ocean in their minds and create change before it becomes a habit and a way of living that contaminates the oceans. I decided to engage in activities to educate children and youth who will grow into the adults and citizens of tomorrow. I became very passionate about the ocean and all the life it holds.
The need for urgent action entrenched in my mind when on the 4th of July, I went to the beach, and there were so many plastic bags and soda bottles and litter on the beach that it broke my heart as I imagined little sea animals suffocating in them unable to break free. These life forms in the ocean are hurting! If I educate the younger generation about them, they’ll also grow to love the ocean and will help to stop such things from happening. It is our civic responsibility to take action and stop this pollution in the ocean. The youth need to be empowered and united for this cause, to save the oceans.
Oceans, we need to save;
Come, let’s start a wave!
Each person should take a stand,
A pledge to keep clean our beach sand.
Now, together we can stop ocean pollution,
So, know that in your hands, is the solution.
— Tanya Das, 2017
In my free time, I like to read, write fantasy fiction, play video games, and cuddle with my Tibetan Spaniel puppy, Coco. I love listening to Broadway songs, especially from Hamilton: An American Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Writing for my blog, thewordexplorer.blog, also keeps me busy.
According to the Kentucky Department of Education, less than half of elementary and middle school students in my home county can read at a proficient level. The Bluegrass Literacy Project aims to increase reading proficiency among this group of students by providing etymology workshops in Jefferson County, the largest county and school district in Kentucky. Additionally, the Bluegrass Literacy Project will work to increase literacy among refugee children. Kentucky is one of the top states receiving refugees and more than half of the refugees settle in Louisville. I was first exposed to etymology (the study of word origins) in my third grade English class. Later that year, when I competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, I discovered that etymology was a powerful tool that could be used to quickly learn vocabulary and spelling of even the most obscure words in the English language. Research shows that etymology is the most effective method to learn and retain vocabulary, a key component of reading comprehension. The study of Latin and Greek roots is especially valuable because more than 60% of the English language comes from Latin and Ancient Greek. By learning word roots, people can often recall the definitions of words faster than rote memorization alone. Through my project, I hope to show kids a new way to approach the English language and improve their reading skills.
I fold origami, create sculptures, and read lots and lots of (e)books.
One of the most prevalent, if underrepresented, problems in our society is the lack of understanding for the needs of people with executive functioning problems; i.e. people with Autism/Asperger’s and PTSD. Both feature something called Executive Functioning and Sensory Processing Disorder, which is a condition that impedes your ability to conduct motor planning as well as respond to external stimuli. Motor planning is when your brain decides to do something and then coordinates all the little actions that go along with it without conscious thought. Without it, you cannot complete any task effectively because you need to spend so much time on the tiny things (remembering how to write an “a”, getting a refrigerator door open, etc...) that you cannot work at the speed society requires. On the sensory side, it amplifies sensory stimuli to unbearable levels. A parking structure becomes an echo-y chamber of death. A stroll through an outdoor mall becomes an agonizing hell of “too bright and too many people”. I was inspired to use this for my project because I myself suffer from autism spectrum disorder. I have struggled long and hard against these very problems, and so I know what it is like (terrible), what will help (training to learn to improve these skills in a low-pressure environment), and what will not (the current stigma of being a “bad” or “lazy” person).
Started in 1999, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation. Our mission is to recognize, nurture and support profoundly intelligent young people ages 18 and under, and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference.
Profoundly gifted students are those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests. Read more about this population in this article.