Archana Somasegar is a current junior studying Economics and Mind, Brain, and Behavior at Harvard University. She has had a long history of advocating for women’s rights around the world – from being the President of the Seattle Chapter of Circle of Women where she successfully spearheaded a project to build a computer lab and sewing studio for an orphanage in India, to her role as a Teen Advisor for the Girl Up Campaign by the United Nations Foundation. Since then, she has been invited as a speaker for Microsoft’s Giving Campaign, and was selected to represent the United States at the 2015 Girls 20 Summit which brought together a single girl from each G20 country to advise the G20 leaders on how to increase Female Labor Force Participation. She has written advocacy pieces for the Girl Up Blog, the Huffington Post, Women on Boards Campaigns, and for the Harvard College Women’s Center, in addition to conducting research in Madrid during the summer of 2015 on the importance of bringing women to Corporate Boards. She was named a recipient for the 2016 Martha Foote Crow Award of Achievement and has been featured in Elle Magazine and Glitter Magazine for her work towards global female empowerment. Her interests outside of women’s advocacy work involve A Cappella singing, classical Indian Dance, and soccer.
Afeef Sheikh is a senior at the Nikola Tesla STEM High School in Redmond. He is the founder of the Literacy Crusade, a global initiative that aims to promote literacy amongst the underprivileged. Over 2,500 books, backpacks, school supplies, and desks have been donated across USA and abroad, along with sponsorship of school transportation, and annual tuition fees. Acknowledging his efforts, the SAMMI Awards Foundation recognized Afeef as the 2016 Youth Spirit Honoree. As an intern at the University of Washington Bothell, he designed an affordable alternative for the rehabilitation challenges associated with Phantom Limb Syndrome using Augmented Reality. Afeef received the 2016 American Junior Academy of Sciences Finalist Award, and multiple first place excellence awards for his solution. In the environmental engineering arena, he developed a business model that allows homeowners to significantly reduce their utility bills through efficient home improvements with minimal upfront expenses. Afeef received first place award in the 2016 McKinstry Built Environment challenge for this model. Finally, in the midst of all this, he finds time to squeeze in a game of World of Warcraft, or a rowing session on Lake Sammamish.
Swetha Shutthanandan, 18, is an incoming freshman at Stanford University. She has been doing scientific research projects mainly concentrating on renewable energy and nanomaterials since the age of 10. Research has become an important part of who Swetha is, and through many years of constant research, she has come to the realization that she wants to be doing it for the rest of her life. Through her research projects, Swetha has participated and placed in science fairs around the country, such as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), International Sustainable World (for Energy, Environment, Engineering) Project Olympiad (ISWEEEP), National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (JSHS) and GENIUS Olympiad. Last year, she was named as a Davidson Fellow Laureate by the Davidson Institute for Talent and Development. She was honored to be one of very few students to be given the opportunity to participate in these prestigious science competitions and also win awards. Swetha has taken many leadership roles in various clubs throughout high school, while also playing tennis and learning Bharatanatyam—an Indian classical style of dance.
Douglas Smith is a sophomore at the Overlake School and his story “Seeking Social Justice in Cambodia” was covered recently by local news outlets. Douglas has a passion for helping others overcome injustice which has led him to help fight human trafficking by growing educational opportunities for children in rural villages of Cambodia. Douglas has raised over $5,000 for the Cambodian University Scholarship Project. In August he traveled to Kampong Thom, Cambodia where he delivered school supplies and equipment, taught English to elementary and high school age children and learned about new opportunities to create sustainable impact for the Cambodian people as they recover from the impact of the Khmer Rouge genocide. Douglas is a graduate of the Open Window School in Bellevue where he co-led the school’s Diversity and Inclusion Club. Douglas was also recently interviewed in the Seattle Times.
Manoj Simha, 16, is a junior at Interlake High School. Since a young age, Manoj has had a passion for writing, public speaking and leadership. He has won numerous writing competitions since the age of seven, including the Reading Rainbow Young Writer’s Award. He served as the Director of Marketing in a business venture he started along with his peers in association with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. Since then, he has appeared on television as a spokesperson for young leaders and entrepreneurs in Bellevue. He is a national champion debater and a state champion delegate to the Model United Nations. He hopes to help foster a world were young people can be engaged in discourse of the problems we face and strive cooperatively towards solutions. In his free time, he loves to play guitar and is an avid classic movie buff.
Tanaya Sardesai is a senior at Redmond High School who has always had a passion for mental health and neuroscience. Earlier this year she had the opportunity to contribute to the ANNPower Vital Voices leadership forum in New York City, during which she developed a plan to create a mentorship program here in Redmond. Tanaya plays key roles in her community through leadership positions on the India Association of Western Washington Youth Board and the Sammamish Youth Board. She hopes to expand her influence on her community by studying global health in college.
Anamaria Tepordei is a senior at Juanita High School, with a passion for martial arts.
She takes pride in her Romanian heritage, and loves to travel. Besides training in and teaching karate, she likes spending time with friends, reading, and dancing.
She has been inspired by speakers at the TEDxYouth@Redmond event in the past, and is excited to reverse the roles, and inspire others this year!
Nik Robert Gaggero
Nik is an 18 year old Mariner High School Alumnus from Everett, Washington. He will be attending Edmonds Community College this fall. He enjoys robotics, coding, and any and all things nerdy.