Lauren Harteveldt | CONNECTICUT
Lauren Harteveldt is a high school senior at Greenwich Academy located in Greenwich, Connecticut. A jarring and eye-opening anti-semetic event during her freshman year history class principally inspired her directly to promote change through involvement in diversity work, particularly as it regards the ideology of allyship. Unsure, initially, of how she should act, and aware that there is much still to learn, Lauren first broadened her involvement as an advocate and a leader through her participation in the Greenwich Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), where she began to problem-solve solutions to systematic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues. There she began to learn the importance of making a stand and encouraging change for the betterment of society, leading her to then participate in the Connecticut SDLC and the National SDLC. These conferences allowed her to create a web of allies with students from around the country, learning from their experiences to help her promote change within her own community. Lauren wanted to broaden her reach and founded AspiringAlly during her sophomore year to raise awareness among youth and empower them to take action. Aspiringally.org also aims to unite young people around the world through allyship by spreading awareness about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Besides AspiringAlly, Lauren is involved in numerous clubs at Greenwich Academy including the White-Anti Racist Affinity Group (President), Gay Straight Alliance (Vice President), and also founded the AspiringAlly club. She is also a Co-chair of the First Selectman's Youth Commission of Greenwich and a member of Greenwich Youth For Justice. Since the launch of AspiringAlly, Lauren has also planed and organized the Greenwich Student Diversity Leadership Conference and facilitated workshops in many other conferences. Finally, Lauren is one of four recipients of the Greenwich Racial Justice Scholarship Award.
Ethan Scott | NORTH CAROLINA
Ethan Grey Scott is currently a senior in high school from Charlotte, North Carolina. Through his academic journey, Ethan has had an emotional and heartfelt passion for establishing a Gay Straight Alliance club within his school, though administrators did not support his endeavors. With the rise of Covid-19 at our doorsteps, he felt pulled to create a virtual space where LGBTQ youth could safely connect and support one another. Though similar platforms by adults exist, Ethan thought it was important to create a platform for youth, by youth. His goals include creating a platform where youth in non-supportive educational environments and those who reside in rural areas who lack local resources can find virtual community. Help him denounce discrimination and the injustice towards LGBTQ+ youth everywhere by visiting www.virtualgsa.org .
When he’s not advocating…. Ethan is a proud recipient of the coveted BSA, Eagle Scout Award. He is a member of the National Honor Society, French National Honor Society, the Rho Kappa Social Studies National Honor Society, and aspiringally.org. In addition to doing service in his local community, he finds great joy in providing much needed service to under-resourced rural communities which have included the Village Community Center in Navua River, Fiji, Bushveld Mission Children’s Orphanage in Thabazimbi, South Africa, and El Bruno Village in the Costa Rican rainforest.
Grace Paletta| CONNECTICUT
Grace Paletta is a senior at Cornell University. She is majoring in Communications with a minor in Education. She is also a member of the Varsity Cornell Women’s Lacrosse team and a member of the Red Key Society. Grace’s first experience with education inequity was when she visited Rwanda at a young age to see the school her father and his colleagues were building there. She saw the teacher training program that they started from the ground up and began to recognize the glaringly obvious difference between the opportunities some students have in comparison to others. Grace continued to learn about education inequality through her minor. Her classes were largely aimed at exposing the cracks in our education and the consequences of the opportunity gap. Without similar resources, background, upbringing, and status, students do not have the same potential to succeed as her peers. Her time at Cornell has given her the opportunity to see this disparity in classrooms as well as visit underserved communities to try and make a difference. She is extremely passionate about seeing change in our education system and being part of the solution.
Ethan Hwang | TAIWAN
Ethan Hwang is currently a senior attending Taipei American School. He is an avid basketball player and is co-captain of his Varsity Basketball team. Ethan enjoys giving back to the community through his love of basketball and sports and has worked with underprivileged orphans. He is co-founder of Hoop Hero (www.hoophero.org), a movement that’s mission statement is “forgotten children, in forgotten places, with forgotten issues, and is also engaged as an ambassador for a number of other global social impact organizations. He has traveled to Myanmar to visit orphans with AIDS and provide them with educational aid and uses basketball to bring joy to their lives. Ethan believes that by investing in children, he has the opportunity to create long-lasting change for families and communities around the world. He seeks understanding, builds trust, and creates meaning in the work that he does. He is committed to delivering sustainable results and recognizes that learning and growth are at the heart of helping people facing hardships.
Caelan Thakur | NEW YORK
Caelan Thakur is currently a high school senior and is the creator of www.FutbolEquity.org, a journalistic endeavor offering critical insight on equity issues in the world’s most popular sport, “futbol” or soccer. While focused on gender equity, he also explores socio-economic factors, as well as broader access issues to public spaces. By interviewing key actors and participants in the world of soccer and public design, he highlights both equity shortcomings and advocacy efforts. Thoughtful commentary builds awareness of equity issues and paves the way for community engagement so that people are not just talking about equity issues, but working to bridge equity gaps.
He is a lifelong soccer player, swimmer, boxer and an ardent fan of “le futbol”. Team collaboration, leadership, perseverance, anxiety management and immune system strengthening are
as much a part of athletic pursuits as the ability to kick a ball into a net.
And more broadly, sports bridges diversity, across gender, race, culture, age and socio-economic status. Inequity takes advantage of those differences. He believes it is his job to be an advocate and recruit other young people alongside me to make the future even better.
Abheet Sarker | PENNSYLVANIA
Abheet Sarker is a senior at Williamsport Area High School in Williamsport, PA. In the summer of 2018 he experienced a defining moment that would forever shape his ambitions as a servant leader when he visited his home country of Bangladesh at the age of 14. There he insisted on helping his dad establish charity medical care for the Rohingya. Since that visit he has not been able to forget the horror, pain and suffering that he witnessed, and he wanted to help amplify the untold stories of the millions who have been subjected to ethnic cleansing by Myanmar and Buddhist extremists. Abheet wanted to be an ally initially in his own little ways by fundraising. Still, he realized that people were ignorant about the refugee crisis, and thus he would start raising awareness in his local community by holding speaking engagements and seminars. To ensure the reach would be broader, he created a website named representtherohingya.com along with a series of mini-documentaries to voice the core issues leading to the refugee crisis. He has been interviewed by a local newspaper and international channels. Through his fundraising and altruistic endeavors, he has been able to arrange hefty donations to the refugee camps. He revisited the camps in the midst of the pandemic in November 2020 to distribute the funds raised and implement changes within the camps that have already helped better the lives of the orphans by building school buildings and providing books. At 17 years of age, Abheet looks forward to combining premedical studies with International studies in order to continue his work to help the orphan refugees.