Ritankar Das, 18, is the youngest University Medalist (top graduating senior) at U.C. Berkeley (over 6000 graduates) in at least a century. As a Whitaker fellow, Das is pursuing an MSc in Biomedical Engineering at Oxford University. He founded the education non-profit organization, See Your Future. At Berkeley, Das helped manage a $1.7 Billion budget as an Academic Senator, founded the Berkeley Chemical Review research journal, designed a chemistry DeCal course and was a graduate student instructor. Das, a published alternative energy researcher, has received awards from the major scientific societies in chemistry (ACS), physics (APS), and biology (ASBMB) and from NSF. He also analyzed entries for the Presidential Green Chemistry Award at the EPA. Das is currently authoring a book on education reform with contributions from Fortune 50 CEOs, Nobel Laureates, U.S. cabinet secretaries and university presidents. Das has earned over 40 awards totaling more than $300,000 including the prestigious Goldwater, Udall, and Pearson awards, as well as a Congressional Certificate of Recognition. He has been inducted into the Berkeley Wall of Fame, alongside Aaron Rodgers, Gregory Peck and Steve Wozniak. He has served on advisory boards to State Farm, City of New Berlin, DoSomething.org, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and on the IJSA journal editorial board. Das has been featured in over 100 media outlets around the world including the SF Chronicle, ABC, and Times of India. During his free time, Das writes poetry, which he has published in the Namjai anthology, and in his book, Silent Moon.
Ann Makosinski is a 15 year old who in September will be in her junior year at the St Michaels University School in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Since early childhood Ann has taken an interest in science and inventing, her first toys being a box of transistors and a hard drive for taking apart. She has been a Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair winner since grade 6, and for the past two years she has also competed and won bronze and gold medals at the Canada Wide Science Fair. This year she participated in the world-wide Google Science Fair, and became one of the 15 finalists. For her project, “The Hollow Flashlight,” she created a three-LED flashlight that runs on the heat of the human hand. In the future, Ann hopes to further develop and improve this heat-salvaging technology so it is more efficient and can challenge regular flashlights in terms of brightness. She would like to make her flashlight available in emergency kits, and to those in third-world countries to those who cannot afford electricity, or where electricity is not available. Her long-term dream is to help in saving the environment by eliminating the use of non-recyclable batteries for low power personal electronics. Ann also enjoys playing the piano and violin, acting, editing films, and reading the classics.
Hasib is a junior at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia. He works for Greening Forward, the fastest-growing and largest youth-staffed environmental nonprofit organization in the world, with programs in several continents. After a year, Hasib was promoted to Program Director of the organization, allowing him to empower youth on a worldwide scale through education and financial grants. Greening Forward’s mission is to empower young people so that they are in the forefront of the environmental movement in their communities. Through his work, Hasib has communicated with the likes of Jane Goodall and others. He serves on The Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council, and he has served as Committee Chair of the Model Atlanta Regional Commission. He is also one of the ten young people who serve on the National Youth Advisory Council of Keep America Beautiful, the largest community improvement organization in the USA.
YingYing Shang is a 17-year-old freshman at Harvard University, a blogger, and a social justice activist. She blogs for the Huffington Post and served as teen advisor to the United Nations Foundation campaign Girl Up, which seeks to mobilize American girls to raise funds and awareness for girls in developing countries. She is an activist and blogger at SPARK Movement, a movement demanding an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media, and has spoken on a panel with Gloria Steinem on Nickelodeon’s Nick News with Linda Ellerbee. YingYing is a Girl Scout Gold Awardee and has been honored by Philadelphia City Council as a “Rising Star,” part of the City of Philadelphia’s Next Generation of Women’s Leadership. As the first ever Junior Delegate to the national gender equality movement Vision 2020: Equality in Sight, she helped found the Junior Branch for high school and college. She loves Taylor Swift, High School Musical, and the movie Moonrise Kingdom. YingYing is unabashedly, unironically a fan of top 40 pop music.
Param Jaggi is the founder & CEO of Ecoviate, a research and development company focusing on disposable green-technologies. He began researching in the field of environmental and energy technologies at the age of 13. Since then, he has innovated bio-fuel preparation, designed highly effective bioreactors, created a device that mitigates motor vehicle emissions (currently patented), and many more. Param was named to the 2012 & 2013 Forbes “30 Under 30: Energy” list for his work in green-technologies. Aside from being a Junior at Vanderbilt University, studying Mechanical Engineering & Economics, Param has consulted as a research associate and even a rocket scientist. Param founded EcoViate with the vision to change the world through innovative energy & environmental designs.
Ruby Karp is a young feminist, comedian and journalist, living in New York City. At the age of 7 years old, Ruby was on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls At the Party, talking about feminism, a strong belief of Ruby’s. At the age of 10 years old, she started writing weekly articles for Hellogiggles.com. When Ruby was 11, she started hosting a monthly comedy-story-telling-show at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater. At age 12, she won the Moth story slam. At 13, she wrote an OP-ED on Mashable.com (13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook) about how none of her friends are on Facebook. And currently, still at 13, she is trying to figure out how to survive middle school.
Erik Martin is a game designer and a student at the University of Maryland creating his own major in New Media and Global Affairs. He is currently organizing a Student Constitutional Convention to create a National Student Bill of Rights with current and veteran students across the country, and works as a consultant to create games that entertain and engage players to promote peace and civil society with the international development agency FHI360. He also co-leads the ScienceOnlineTeen unconference in New York City, which brings students, scientists, teachers, and other professionals together to talk equally about the future of education. He has previously worked as a game designer for the Federation of American Scientists and the U.S. Department of Energy, and has served as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Maryland General Assembly. Most importantly of all, when he has the time, he co-leads the online guild Vanguard Gaming.
Lane is a 16-year-old entrepreneur. Since age five, he’s had a strong passion for technology, business, and entrepreneurship. He’s grown up with technology integrated in his daily life. At age 11, he started KidCriticUSA, writing reviews by a kid, for kids and families that gave a tween view of products, movies, and more. He speaks regularly about social media, online privacy, entrepreneurship, marketing, and millennials to conferences, companies, professionals, colleges, and students. Digital is a second language for many members of Gen Z and beyond, so he brings a unique perspective both as a teen and someone who can offer a business or marketing point of view. When Lane started working with his first client back, he was eleven years old and she was just starting out on Twitter; today, he’s helped her reach 7,500 followers within a special needs community, and he still works with her today. During the day, he can be found learning at high school and serving as Treasurer for his class.
Since the age of four, Adora Svitak has been exploring what she can do with the written word: everything from championing literacy and youth voice to working with the UN’s World Food Programme to raise awareness about world hunger. Hoping to instill her love of writing in others, she taught her first class at a local elementary school the year her first book, Flying Fingers, debuted; since then, she has spoken at hundreds of schools, classrooms and conferences around the world. In 2010, she delivered the speech “What Adults Can Learn from Kids” at TED. The speech received over one million views online and has been translated into over 40 different languages. That same year, Adora started organizing TEDxRedmond. Over the course of years of speaking, her audiences have included teachers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, artists, students, and delegates at the United Nations. She will be a senior at Redmond High School in fall 2013.
Mohammad Adib, 17, is a senior at Newport High School, a Roboticist, as well as a recognized Android Application developer. Since a very young age, he’s had a passion for engineering & technology. Throughout the last few years, he’s learned computer programming, delved into robotics, and developed successful mobile application now in the hands of hundreds of thousands. His success stems partly from attending events such as Startup Weekend and CodeDay, where he realized his true passion for creation and also learned a few important lessons along the way. Ever since hearing Zachary Cohn’s inspiring words “if you do stuff, stuff happens” at a CodeDay, he’s been living by them. However, as he began getting more involved at such events, he soon realized that science, technology, and entrepreneurship especially, are under-pursued compared to other areas of interest among his peers. He believes that fostering interest in STEM from a young age is vital to addressing the huge global need for innovators and scientists, as well as finding solutions to some of our biggest problems. A true believer in entrepreneurship, Mohammad sees himself continuing down this road in the future and applying the lessons he’s learned to see how far he can go to ultimately enhance the human race.
“Hi, my name is Jack, I’m 18, I live in Seattle, and I love entrepreneurship and innovation,” says Jack. The consummate entrepreneur, he loves the idea of starting something new – creating something from nothing – and introducing it to others who can benefit from using it. More than anything though, he wants to apply his passion for entrepreneurship and technology to benefit and empower other people. For the past couple years his mission has been to democratize the traditionally wealth-dependent philanthropy model – to make it easier and more accessible by using the incredibly profitable and widespread power of the Web. He chose philanthropy because of the realization that money makes the world go round, and that the root of many global problems is lack of funding. He’s been running a nonprofit search engine startup called Benelab to fulfill his vision, and he’s convinced the vision is very much viable as well as scalable. Jack was born and raised in Korea until fourth grade, when he moved over to the States. He just graduated from King’s High School in Shoreline, and will be moving to California this September to study Management Science & Engineering (MS&E) or Computer Science at Stanford.
Darren Leung started his studies at age five, and has pursued his musical passion ever since, studying with John Kim. He has appeared as a soloist with the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra which he has been a dedicated member of for 8 years, and has performed in ensemble at Benaroya Hall for the 2011 and 2013 Ten Grands concerts. One specific ensemble has performed for the Interlake graduation ceremony in 2011, and has won first place in the WMEA State Solo and Ensemble contest. Darren was also a finalist in the Performing Arts Festival of the East Side Concerto Competition in 2011 and won his class for the SYAMF Solo competition. Along with his soloist endeavors, Darren has participated in the All-State orchestra and has been accepted into the All-National Orchestra, expecting to perform in October. Along with his musical achievements, Darren is a full IB honors student and is currently pursuing a career in physics, working under the supervision of a CERN professor stationed in UW on the epe-ATLAS tracker upgrade team for the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.
Divya Cherukupalli is a junior at the STEM school in Redmond who loves dancing with a passion. Although she has never had formal training, she has explored various styles of dance such as contemporary, lyrical, and hip hop. She began the process of teaching herself how to dance in ninth grade, learning from watching other dancers and eventually, developing her own dancing style. Divya has been performing at several small local events and participates actively in her school’s dance club. Other than her dancing career, she is also an aspiring engineer who enjoys robotics and loves math and science.
Audrey Chen, a senior at Interlake High School, began playing the cello in fourth grade with Kai Chen. She has been principal cellist of the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra for the past five years, as well as principal cellist of the 2012 Summer All-Nationals Honor Orchestra. For the past two years, Audrey has placed in the top at the Washington State Solo and Ensemble Contest. She was recently one of six winners of the Seattle Young Artists Music Festival Concerto Competition, performing the first movement of the Barber Cello Concerto. Her solo experience includes soloing with the Northwest Philharmonia, Eastside Symphony, Sammamish Symphony, Rain City Symphony, Seattle Youth Philharmonic, and Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra. In the summer of 2012, Audrey was selected to participate in the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, where she won the concerto competition and made her debut on the Kennedy Center Concert Hall stage with the Summer Music Institute Orchestra. Last summer, Audrey became principal cellist of the very first National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA), where she participated in a two-week training residency in New York and then toured across the globe in DC, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and London with esteemed conductor Valery Gergiev and soloist Joshua Bell. Audrey is an active member of her community, performing for benefit concerts and the like. In addition to playing the cello, Audrey fences, plays the piano, and loves drinking tea. She hopes to continue performing music all throughout college and beyond. Audrey plays on a French Buthod cello on generous loan from the Carlsen Cello Foundation.
Takumi Taguchi, age 12, is a 7th grader at Odle Middle School in Bellevue, WA. He began his violin studies at age 2 with Suzuki Method in Tokyo, Japan. He moved to Bellevue at 5 and studied with Mihoko Hirata until March 2013, and is currently a student of Simon James of Seattle Symphony and piano collaborator Hiro David. Takumi also studies music theory, sonata literature, and ensemble at the Academy of Music Northwest. He has played in the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO) for the past 6 years and has been a member of Academy Chamber Orchestra for one year. He won BYSO’s 2012 concerto competition, 2013 Suzuki World Conference concerto competition and played the Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with a professional orchestra at its honors recital in Matsumoto, Japan, 2013 Best of Violin/ Viola Division Award at PAFE, and 2013 David Tonkonogui Memorial Award by Music of Remembrance. Takumi has taken master classes of renowned teachers including Brian Lewis, Bryan Hall, Koji Toyoda (former chairman of Suzuki Method and concertmaster of Berlin Broadcasting Orchestra, Kenji Kobayashi of Toho Gakuen University, Toby Appel of The Juilliard School, and David Harding of the University of British Columbia. This summer he attended Indiana University Jacobs School of Music’s Summer String Academy on a merit scholarship. Outside of music, Takumi loves karate, chess, soccer, and traveling with his family. At school his favorite subjects include PE, orchestra, French, and Science. Takumi speaks fluent English and Japanese.