Class of 2024 Ambassadors
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 2024 class of Young Scholar Ambassadors. Please take a moment to learn about their service projects, in their own words.
Francis W. Parker School
“I love reading and writing in my free time, as well as studying languages and linguistics. I’m also a huge horror movie fan.”
Project: Operation Fischel
In Chicago, like most cities in the United States, the socioeconomic status you are born into can shape the course of your life in many ways. Students from low-income families are heavily affected by the wealth disparity between themselves and students from high-income families. This disparity can manifest in the form of not being able to afford tutoring outside of school.
Tutoring is of paramount importance for middle school students, as those who want to get into certain high schools must take tests to do so. These tests cover topics which aren’t always covered in school, making it much harder for students without outside tutoring to do well on them.
Students from higher-income families are statistically more likely to do well on such tests, which I believe is due to a lack of available resources for the lower-income families. This is why I came up with my project, Operation Fischel (named after the man who invented exam-taking in the western world). I want to provide tutoring for middle schoolers who may not be able to afford tutoring, to help them create opportunities for themselves to go to test-in high schools. This project would involve high school students like myself tutoring the middle school students in need of support. The ultimate goal of Operation Fischel is to supply lower-income students with the same resources as their higher-income counterparts, creating an equitable solution to the disparity in school resources.
Robbinsville, New Jersey
Robbinsville High School
“I play squash as a sport and enjoy singing in my school choir as well as out of school.”
Project: MHAYA (Mental Health Awareness in Young Athletes)
My focus for this project (MHAYA) is on addressing the critical need of young athletes to protect their mental health. The need is critical because there is not enough awareness about its importance among young athletes, sports coaches and even parents. Mental health in general is extremely important to keep track of, however it is mostly being ignored in athletic settings. That is why the goal of MHAYA is to change that, by raising awareness and educating people on this topic. My inspiration for MHAYA came from how I experienced mental health issues as a practicing young athlete myself. My parents recognized and supported me well but I am not sure if other young athletes will get that support at home. The three pillars of MHAYA are to build Awareness, Education and Community around mental health for young athletes. With this project I hope to make an impact on those around me.
Castle Rock, Colorado
“I’m involved in a journalism club/school newspaper as a writer. I also like to build with my legos, hike with my family, and bike.”
Project: Authentically Autistic
I’m inspired to help children with autism because it’s hard for us to live in a world where we are expected to fit in, when we are practically a different species.
Most people think of autism as a disability, but in fact, the brain with autism is very amazing. Many influential people, like Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Elon Musk had/have autism, and their autistic brains allowed them to accomplish the amazing things they did. I want everyone to see the multifaceted, intricate, beautiful autistic brain. I thrive to educate people with autism about their inner powers so that they can do amazing things to change the world as well.
My organization enables children & individuals with autism to live authentically & STAND OUT with our autistic strengths in a world that expects us to FIT IN, by equipping teachers and providing families with education, resources, and community.
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Meadows School
“In my free time, I love to read books, play piano, and play tennis. I also love to play video games, watch movies, and assemble puzzles or LEGO sets with my family and friends.“
Project: The PLAY Program
The PLAY Program is meant to help pediatric cancer patients explore or continue to participate in extracurricular interests free of charge. The main goal for this project is to provide pediatric cancer patients with a sense of normalcy and allow them to explore their interests safely without burdening the family with further expenses. It is a subprogram of my non-profit organization called Cancer Kids First Nevada which I founded during COVID to support children with cancer diagnoses, help their caretakers financially, and provide social good opportunities for community members. You can find us on Instagram (@cancerkidsfirstnevada) or on our website cancerkidsfirstnevada.org.
Palo Alto, California
“In my free time, I enjoy playing the harp, volleyball, reading, and creating films on topics I am passionate about.”
Project: Our World, Our Bodies
Our World, Our Bodies is a project striving to raise awareness about Climate Medicine. People are becoming attuned to climate change, but most still don’t think about how it can impact our health. If students know about the health impacts of climate change, not only will they be able to take better care of their health, but also be motivated to address climate change. Our World, Our Bodies will raise awareness through creating impactful videos and films based on interviews on the topic (with patients, doctors, and researchers), making a user-friendly informational website, and reaching out to influential lawmakers and decision makers.
Ephraim Curtis Middle School
“My leisure activities vary quite a lot. On quiet days, I love to read and draw sketches of things I think are interesting. Whenever I’m feeling active, I love to bike and swim.”
Project: The Talent Pledge
My mission as the ambassador of the Talent Pledge is to fill the holes of knowledge that COVID created. It is supposed to offer free, accessible, 1:1 tutoring where struggling young elementary and middle schoolers can get help with things such as homework to issues on a topic they don’t understand. Tutors are usually designated to their own district or curriculums they have experience going through, making them familiar with the subject matter already. I started the Talent Pledge after seeing some of my former 7th grade peers have trouble with topics that came easily to me. While I was in a class with the 8th graders (as a 7th grader at the time) expanding my potential, their math teacher failed nearly half of the student’s tests on a topic they had spent weeks learning and reviewing. And the worst part; teachers that have 120 students to worry about can’t care about any one individual. That is what my organization is meant to do.
Syosset, New York
Free time activities include running, painting, reading, playing with her cat, and cooking.
Project: Research to Empower
Growing up in suburban New York surrounded by people of color from first-generation and newly immigrated families taught me what it means to appreciate education changing people’s lives and diversity. As I grew up, I experienced being the only girl in a community-level research team and it appalled me. How can educational resources be so unevenly distributed? From my research journey, I know that there are many challenges such as looking for a mentor, choosing research topics, staying motivated, and more. After receiving positive feedback from professors and experts, I realized the power of sharing knowledge, both for others and the knowledge-sharer. But, there is a shocking level of insufficient support for young researchers in particular those from the vulnerable groups. That’s why, after learning wonders through my own research experience and seeing the frustration of female students of color from first-generation families, I longed to share this tool for empowerment among my younger peers in my community and around the world.
Thus, Research to Empower is an educational initiative aimed to address the lack of research support, courses, mentorship, and information for aspiring researchers at the elementary to middle school level as a supplement to the K-12 curriculum. I want to help students with the potential to come up with amazing, possibly world-changing ideas but don’t know where or how to start, and don’t have the resources to. The project’s mission is to inspire, support, and empower the next generation of aspiring young researchers, especially those from vulnerable backgrounds. It consists of four main components: an online platform for resource-sharing, a guidebook titled Research to Empower: A Vibrant Guidebook for Young Students, an engaging research training course, and a series of campaigns to promote this project.
Check out the website that this project will be hosted on: https://sharing2empower.org
San Francisco, California
“I love to read, write, and think about science problems our world is facing today, and am learning to fly planes.”
Project: Ideas to Reality
The vision of Ideas to Reality is to inspire students to dig into their curiosity and advance their scientific ideas. Many students do not pursue their scientific ideas due to lack of not knowing how to move their idea further. Additionally, they also do not have access to resources to pursue their idea.The purpose of my project is to develop an organization that provides opportunities for students (8 – 17 years) to connect and collaborate with mentors, to advance their scientific ideas. The student will receive mentorship and guidance from the mentor (e.g. guidance on how to move forward with the idea, access to latest research papers in the topic, access to laboratory to test out hypotheses) to develop their idea. At the end of the project, the student presents their result as an article, research paper, prototype, science fair, etc. Throughout my many self-initiated science projects, I had support from my mother and the mentors I sought, who inspired me to formulate my ideas to execution, and directed me to resources. I persevered through the many roadblocks along the way, including lack of resources. I feel that many students are not so fortunate. They believe that their idea is trivial, or worse, are discouraged from pursuing advancing, and growing their idea. I am inspired to provide a platform for all students in their journey of formulating a science idea into execution, to find solutions to real-world problems.
Free time activities include creating, writing, and riding her bike.
Project: One is Enough
I would like to raise awareness of waste reduction, prevention of overuse, and the importance of reusing and recycling. I see the ignorant attitude toward waste because it is not a “glamorous” topic for my generation to talk about.
Davis Senior High
“I enjoy building models, rowing on a varsity crew team, practicing my viola, rock climbing, kayaking, and playing FIFA.“
Project: Ilomon: Tanzanian Maasai Culture Conservation Project
In 2019 I was privileged to live alongside one of Africa’s most dynamic tribes, the Maasai of Tanzania. Although I was an outsider they welcomed me into their culture with open arms, and I can fondly remember many a night around the campfire exchanging stories and jokes. Ilomon, my project’s name, is the Maasai word for this spoken culture and history. Like many vulnerable cultures at the crossroads of either preservation or extinction, the Maasai in Eastern Africa rely almost exclusively on this word-of-mouth way of preserving knowledge. But with factors like climate change, urbanization, and the mass purchase of Maasai land for hunting reserves, the land and the stories tied to it are disappearing alarmingly fast. The Maasai, most of whom can’t write or speak English, are in need of a helping hand from outside. Ilomon hopes to be that helping hand. Through partnerships with local Maasai people and organizations, our goal is to record and translate hundreds of Maasai oral traditions to preserve for future generations and to share with a wider audience. The project also hopes to give an opportunity for Maasai to get their voices heard, and give them tools to push back against the invasion of their land and culture.
Contact us at: email@example.com.
Mountain View, California
“I enjoy watching NBA, speech and debate, shopping, playing violin, and hanging out with my friends/family!”
Project: Fun Finance
Money is a significant part of our lives. It’s vital to have a common currency to purchase necessities without bartering goods. Yet, even though money is so important, it’s often left out of school curriculums, as the typical public school doesn’t teach about it. And when they don’t, that causes an extreme lack of financial education for kids.
My project strives to teach underprivileged kids in my community about money. I plan to develop a free curriculum on the basics of money, budgeting, and saving. Primarily, I would love to educate the children/families who can’t access the expensive extracurricular information that’s not taught in schools. I hope my students will benefit by applying what they’ve learned to their lives, helping them break out of the cycle and attain a better future.
Check out Fun Finance’s Instagram: @funfinance_org
“I love reading, writing fiction stories, playing squash, and doing anything artistic, like drawing and painting. I am also getting into crocheting!“
Project: The Crayon Initiative
I was fortunate to be able to pursue all of my creative and artistic dreams growing up. When I was younger and even now, I loved all forms of art. I had experimented with oil pastels, colored pencils, crayons, markers, paint—everything I could touch and hold. I want young artists to be able to experience that: having a variety of art forms to choose from and play around with. Based on this, the idea for The Crayon Initiative (TCI) was created. The goal of my project is to bring art supplies to young artists who cannot afford them, as well as have online art tutorials and resources posted on a website that the artists can look at to put their new supplies to use. I hope to help these young students pursue their passion and love for art and at the same time, provide them with the necessary resources to be successful.
“I like logic puzzles, math, and participating in competitions.”
Project: The STEM Club
My club is a way for children to get STEM education. Even poor children will get the same opportunities in STEM because attending the club is free for everyone.
My inspiration for this project was schools being shut down during the pandemic. Even when schools were shut down, I wanted to make sure children would still be learning, so I started the STEM club.
Svanik “Sunny” P.
Paul VI Catholic High School
“I have been playing baseball since I was 7, and I enjoy honing my skills in my free time. My dog is always energetic, so I like playing with him when I am not practicing.”
Project: Player to Player Help
I have played baseball for as long as I can remember, and through that experience, I made a few realizations. I realized that a few aspiring athletes did not have the same resources and equipment as I did. This prompted me to think if I could reduce or even resolve the disparity. After numerous ideas, one resonated in my heart and brain. Realizing that I could not individually distribute gear, I thought of Player to Player Help.
Player to Player Help is a website I created to act as a platform for people to donate gear without third-party involvement. Player to Player Help aids families that do not have the funds to afford expensive sports equipment and also lets people declutter by donating gear that benefits the community around them. Sports have been shown to help with physical and mental health, making it vital for the younger population to get exposure and the opportunity to play.
You can find Player to Player Help at https://www.playertoplayerhelp.com/.
New York, New York
Free time activities include playing the double bass, coding, and swimming.
Project: Computer Science Chats
As a high schooler, Victor wants to help other students appreciate the role computing has in our lives and understand how they can pursue a career in computing. There are many questions one may have such as: “What are the fundamental skills needed to be successful in a computer career?”, “How do people discover their appreciation of computers?”, “How will computers look like in the future?”, and “What new problems will they solve?”. When trying to find answers to these questions he believes that a good approach is to ask computing professionals. For this reason, he has started CsChats, a series of short chats with people from diverse backgrounds that through their studies and work have demonstrated a strong passion for computing.
The goal of Computer Science Chats is to facilitate conversations about computing and computer science designed for a high school audience. We interview computing professionals on their career paths and their advice for students. Our hope is that high school students will be able to learn through this resource and be inspired to pursue their computing dreams and see the different careers in computing and computer science and what they entail in terms of research, activities, and knowledge. All our video interviews are posted on the cschats.org website and the cschats YouTube channel to create easy access to any of our materials.