Meet Washtenaw County’s 2020 Young Citizens of the Year

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI – Five Washtenaw County high school students with significant and passionate involvement in community service have been named Young Citizens of the Year for 2020.

The Young Citizen of the Year recognizes high school students in Washtenaw County for their outstanding achievement in community service activities outside of school-based extracurricular activities. The Ann Arbor News started the initiative in 1998 to recognize high school students who give back, and the Ann Arbor Area Community Fund quickly got involved in offering scholarships.

This year, for the first time, there are no finalists. Instead, five applicants received the title and a scholarship of $ 3,500 each.

The scholarship competition is supported by the Robert Bruce Dunlap Memorial Fund, which was started by Connie Dunlap in memory of her late husband. The fund is managed by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

Get to know this year’s five Young Citizens and their work in the fields of government counseling, Indigenous activism, healthcare advocacy, youth tutoring and more.

Laila Pasha on Wednesday June 17, 2020.Jacob Hamilton

Laila Pasha

Age: 17

School: Washtenaw Community College Alternative high school / college and GED program

Extracurricular: Various leadership positions at The Neutral Zone, including the founder of Safe Sex And Rape Culture Education, or the SARE program, an educational program that teaches teens about consent; Students educate each other on facilitator diversity; Literary arts facilitator; Career opportunities for student trainees aRe Endless (SCORE), a vocational training service; Member of the neutral zone board of directors

Nominator: Molly Raynor

“Every day you step into space, you’ll find her in one form or another, leading and sustaining the culture – from running our daily community circles to helping cook in the kitchen, she says. has a constant presence of joy, hard love and high expectations for herself, her peers and staff, ”said Raynor in her appointment.

Pasha said her passion for raising awareness about dating violence and rape culture helps educate others about the extent of the problem.

“I’m doing it for myself, because personally I’m a survivor,” Pasha said. “I do it for my friends and the people around me – almost all the girls I know are survivors. Almost all the guys I know are survivors too. I think it’s important that we see the effect of rape culture on both sides. I really do it for others. You have to stand up for others. “

Young Citizens 2020

Madeline Gupta on Thursday June 18, 2020.Jacob Hamilton

Madeline Gupta

Age: 17

School: Ann Arbor Pioneer High School

Extracurricular: Director of Communications and Development at ByKids4Kids, where she runs Kindle Kingdom and Kindles4Covid, English-focused programs and literacy classes through summer camps and distance tutoring; Intern in the Adaptive Dance program at Ballet Chelsea, which teaches dance and movement to people with disabilities; Editor-in-chief of Indigenizing The News, a monthly newsletter focused on highlighting Indigenous voices and issues and educating non-Indigenous people.

Nominators: Wendi DuBois and Sheela Pandey

“Madeline is a remarkable young woman who seeks to help as many people as possible,” said DuBois in her appointment. “… Madeline works daily to make a difference in our community, in a larger global context.”

The recognition is special for Gupta, a Native American, who said she was excited because Indigenous people are not often represented in popular media or awards.

“I think it’s really important that there are kids who maybe will read this, who could be like me and be able to see this representation of themselves and think, ‘Maybe I could do it. too, ”Gupta said.

Young Citizens 2020

Avont’e Browning on Saturday June 20, 2020.Jacob Hamilton

Avont’e Browning

Age: 17

School: Ypsilanti Community High School

Extracurricular: A member of the Youth Government, a group led by the YMCA of Ann Arbor focused on how to improve local government, drafting bills and presenting them to lawmakers in Lansing; Family Empowerment Program, a University of Eastern Michigan program that provides mental and physical support to low-income families in Washtenaw County; Summer meal program; Youth Advisory Council through the Regional Alliance for Schools of Health at the University of Michigan or health clinics at local high schools and colleges to promote health with school campaigns

Proposing: Sharon held

“In a school with many challenges, he made a point of staying focused on his education, while engaging in leadership opportunities and carefully choosing his friends,” Held said upon Browning’s appointment. . “His goal is to become a first responder with Huron Valley Ambulance, and he is enrolled in a certification program, although he was interrupted by the virus.”

Browning said his involvement came from a desire to give back and keep busy. As the youngest of seven siblings and second graduate, he sees his community involvement as a path to the life he desires.

“I grew up with my brothers on the streets,” he says. “I’m trying to be the person who finds a way to prevent this. I do all I can to keep myself busy and not get under the bus. I want to be someone in life.

Young Citizens 2020

Tess Carichner on Thursday June 18, 2020.Jacob Hamilton

Tess Carichner

Age: 17

School: Saline High School

Extracurricular: International Ambassador Days for Girls, a program that provides menstrual products and education to areas of need; Washtenaw County Peer Student Advisory Council 2; 2018 mission trip to the Care Village orphanage in Middleburg, South Africa, where she organized the donation of feminine hygiene products, including reusable kits and pianos; Saline Youth Council

Nominator: Heather McLaughlin

“Tess is the most empathetic person I have ever known, by far – child or adult,” Bob Cindric, 4th grade music teacher at Carichner and founder of Care Village Outreach, wrote in his reference letter. “Tess is passionate about people and deeply aware of injustice and the lack of opportunity in the human condition. Not only does she see it, but she tries to do something about it.

Carichner said she grew up learning different ways to volunteer with her family. She is motivated to continue volunteering when she sees an issue she is passionate about and wants to help.

“It’s a passion of mine to tackle these issues and connect people with the resources they need,” Carichner said. “Something like period poverty or mental health can be extremely debilitating in a person’s life. So if I can enjoy being a part of the change for either person, whether they’re hooked up to resources or learning more about it, it’s just very rewarding for me.

Young Citizens 2020

Jessie Schwalb on Wednesday June 17, 2020.Jacob Hamilton

Jessie schwalb

Age: 16

School: Ann Arbor Huron High School

Extracurricular: Member of the Ann Arbor City Council Student Advisory Council; member of the Adolescent Champion Teen Advisory Council, an advisory board for Michigan Medicine’s adolescent health initiative

Proposing: Valérie Gavrila

“While she is clearly adept at public speaking, it is her ability to lead in a smaller setting that is particularly important,” said Kyla McCallum, Chair of the Student Advisory Council in her reference letter. “She actively listens, seeks other perspectives and leads the conversation. She does not dominate, but rather asks questions that allow other members to flourish. Jessie is a confident young woman, something to admire in someone so young and dedicated to promoting the quieter voices in the room. “

As the COVID-19 pandemic affected some of her service plans, including a presentation at the conference of a project exploring tools to assess health centers, Schwalb said she used the order to stay home to take a virtual course through Sunrise Movement, a climate change activism movement.

“I took this opportunity to meet new people, which was very nice,” said Schwalb. “I ended up joining the Ann Arbor Sunrise hub and it was a really fun experience collaborating with people on Zoom.”

Other nominees Young Citizens 2020:

  • Anika Nayegandhi, Pioneer High School
  • Charles Luther Smith, Huron High School
  • Ciatta Tucker, Huron High School
  • Danny Williams, Pioneer High School
  • Dara Geva, Skyline High School
  • Elijah Hatcher-Kay, Pioneer High School
  • Ellie Andrew-Vaughan, Skyline High School
  • Evelyn Carroll, Skyline High School
  • Jada Holmes, Penn Foster
  • Joann Sun, Huron High School
  • Jocelyn Hobbs, Milan high school
  • Kaitlin Barrett-Huff, Skyline High School
  • Kiley Lewandowski, Lincoln High School
  • Kwadwo (Nana) Ampene, Pioneer High School
  • Lauren Dotson, Washtenaw International High School
  • Lauren Kim, Washtenaw International High School
  • Madison Brodeur, Chelsea High School
  • Maryam Parker, Michigan Islamic Academy
  • Masa Baghal, Michigan Islamic Academy
  • Miles Klapthor, community high school
  • Naina Agrawal-Hardin, Washtenaw International High School
  • Narine Veridyan, Washtenaw Intermediate Technical College
  • Olivia Johnson, Greenhills School
  • Pooja Yalavarthi, Huron High School
  • Rachael Somers, Washtenaw International High School
  • Riya Katial, Pioneer High School
  • Roxie Richner, Community High School
  • Samiksha Sneha, Huron High School
  • Sofia Shearing, Pioneer High School
  • Thalia Epps, Huron High School
  • Will Ellsworth, Greenhills School
  • Will Harrison, Huron High School

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