- from Connecticut or the New York City metro area (and plan to attend or are attending college anywhere in the U.S.)
- from any part of the U.S. who plan to attend (or are attending) college in CT or NYC
- a student who has solved an artistic, scientific, or technical problem in a new or unusual way
- a student who has come up with a distinctive solution to problems faced by your school, community or family
- a student who has created a new group, organization, or institution that serves an important need
Paige Alenick (Woodcliff Lake, NJ): Aware of the fact that poor oral health leads to a range of serious medical problems that negatively impact the lives of more people around the world than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, Paige created an organization to address this problem one toothbrush at a time. "Donate-a-Toothbrush" has collected donations of over 101,000 new toothbrushes from individuals and manufacturers that have been distributed by an NGO to over 60 countries. She is a freshman at New York University, where she plans to major in Cognitive Science.
Devin Gund (Ridgefield, Connecticut): Hurricanes and storms frequently cripple power lines and halt communication in Devin's hometown, leaving students and their families literally in the dark about emergency measures and scheduling changes. Devin used his passion for programming to create a mobile application for the school system that provides families with a constant link to emergency alerts. The app he designed also provides access to teacher websites, student and sports schedules, grades, attendance, and homework, in addition to providing notifications of alerts and closings for every school. The software company he created is customizing the app for other school systems around the country. He is a recent graduate of Ridgefield High School and plans to study Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Janine Kerr (Danbury, CT): When Zebra Mussels began invading lakes in Connecticut, causing negative environmental and economic consequences, Janine was concerned, since the only method of controlling the infestation involved putting environmentally dangerous chemicals into the water. The independent research she undertook made her aware of a kind of sponge found off the coast of Indonesia on which mollusks didn't grow, despite the fact that they grew on coral reefs and other sponges all around them. Janine designed a controlled experiment to test whether a chemical derived from the mollusk-free sponge could inhibit mollusk growth in Connecticut waters; she designed another experiment to determine whether the chemical was environmentally safe. Her positive results could serve as the basis for a plan to rid Connecticut lakes of this invasive species. A senior at Danbury High School, she plans to study Environmental Management in college.
Angus MacMullen (New Haven, CT): How do you get ten- to fourteen-year-olds excited about learning electronic circuitry? Angus met this challenge by designing a class at the Eli Whitney Museum around a creative project that captured their imaginations: building a simple modular analog synthesizer whose components could be randomly connected and knobs turned at whim to create some "wonderfully annoying sound effects." He is a recent graduate of Hopkins School, and plans to study Electrical Engineering at MIT.
Eve McNally (San Mateo, CA): As she walked home from school on a sunny California afternoon, Eve was struck by all the oranges and lemons lying in people's yards, at the base of the trees from which they had fallen; she knew that much of this surplus fruit—more than the families could consume—would simply rot. She also knew first-hand how scarce fresh produce was at local food pantries. Eve founded "Picking for Hunger" to match people whose trees produced more fruit than they needed with high school students who would pick the fruit before it spoiled and deliver it to local food pantries. The idea took off and is spreading to other schools. A senior at Aragon High School, Eve has not decided yet on what her major in college will be.
Matthew O'Connell (Commack, NY): How does one communicate proper instructions for taking a medication to people who do not speak the language of the prescriber, or who are illiterate, visually-impaired or hearing-impaired? Matthew combined his interests in computer science, health, and medicine to address this problem. He developed an innovative computer program that utilizes translations, audio instruction, and pictograms to better relay medication instructions. The International Pharmaceutical Federation has put a link to it on their website, and hundreds of prescribers around the world have used it. A senior at Commack High School, Matthew plans to major in Software Engineering in college.
Brook Peters (New York, NY): Brook's second day of kindergarten was in a school located near the Twin Towers on 9/11. Ten years later, he shot, edited and produced a compelling and creative film that conveyed with immediacy and sensitivity what it felt like for his peers and their teachers to bear witness to that awful chapter of history. He also shot, edited and produced a series of sensitive documentaries about veterans. All of his films inspire people to appreciate the resilience of which they are capable. A high school senior, he is undecided about what his college major will be.
Ahmed Abdelqader (Brooklyn, NY): While in high school, Ahmed recognized that many middle-school children are often scared of math or convinced that they are "bad at it." To spark children's interest in math, he and a friend created "MathMatters!"—a program in which high school students design creative lesson plans that introduce middle-school students to Game Theory, Graph Theory, and Combinatorics in simple, enjoyable and easy-to-understand ways. The program has spread to several middle schools in Brooklyn, and Ahmed continues to develop it while studying Electrical Engineering at City College of New York.
Saliyah George (Brooklyn, NY): Do Brooklyn establishments have sufficient accommodations for the disabled? Saliyah set out to find out by conducting a community-based, participatory research project entitled "Barrier Busters," in which she developed an assessment tool listing some 20 accommodations that establishments should offer people with disabilities and rated over 60 local businesses. Her presentations about what she found have helped raise awareness about health disparities in her community. A recent graduate of Nazareth Regional High School, she plans to major in Public Health at Franklin and Marshall College.
Razieme Iborra (Masillon, Ohio): Razieme wanted to use her passion for filmmaking and editing to help teenagers in foster care deal with the challenges that they face. In consultation with a therapist, she developed "The Action/Cut Project," a ten-week-long film program exposing teenagers at a local center for teens in foster care to all aspects of filmmaking. The young filmmakers found the opportunity to create films about their lives empowering and therapeutic. A recent graduate of Perry High School, she plans to study film and television at Tisch School for the Arts at NYU.
Thomas Kazi (Wilton, CT): Recognizing that children with serious physical and mental disabilities in a special needs class in his school had few opportunities to interact with nature, Thomas built a hydroponic therapy center in their classroom. Planting seeds, nurturing them, and watching them sprout and grow turned out to be a good way for these students to reduce their stress. The parents group for a class of children with autism in his school decided to duplicate the "natural cure for stress" that Thomas came up with in their own children's classroom. A recent graduate of Wilton High School, he plans to major in finance at Roger Williams University.
Jeffrey Marano (Brewster, NY): The tremors that Jeffrey experienced as a result of a vitamin deficiency related to his Celiac Disease were successfully treated by a strict vitamin therapy; but he knew not all tremors could be treated or limited as easily. He developed an innovative brace for everyday use by patients suffering from essential tremors, the most commonly diagnosed neurological movement disorder. The distinctive mechanism of the brace he designed can provide effective and noninvasive relief. A recent graduate of Brewster High School, he plans to study Biomedical Engineering at Boston University.
Stefanos Tai (New York, NY): Having witnessed the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and the ways in which it disrupted people's lives, Stefanos was upset that people around him were not more concerned about the increasingly unpredictable weather New York suffered, and its connection to climate change. Stefanos wrote, shot and directed an imaginative film inspired by his concern about climate change and his desire to help people recognize themselves as the "vulnerable, dependent, and insignificant animals that we are"—a prerequisite in his view, for respecting the earth and ensuring our survival. It debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. He is studying Filmmaking at Savannah College of Art and Design.
Suge Zhang (New Haven, CT): Suge creatively combined traditional Chinese storytelling (Pingshu), a representative art form of Chinese street culture, and techniques of modern western theatre to bring a well-known early twentieth-century Chinese play (Thunderstorm by Cao Yu) alive for a contemporary American audience. Her original translation, adaptation and imaginative staging of the play – in which she artfully portrayed five different characters – captivated her audience. A recent graduate of Wilbur Cross High School and ACES Educational Center for the Arts, she plans to study Social Work and Theatre Studies at NYU.
Rachel Zwick (New Haven, CT): Inspired by the memory of a friend who shared her love of theatre but who died of bone cancer before graduation, Rachel created, directed and produced dramatizations of a series of popular young children's books for hospitalized children at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital. The performance gave patients and their families a welcome respite from the strain of dealing with childhood illness. A recent graduate of Co-op High School, she plans to study Theatre at Southern Connecticut State University.