For the past few months, you all have opened your lives and shared your stories with me. When I first started at the Charlotte Observer as the Young Achievers reporter, I never imagined I would meet such an inspiring group of youth that wanted to take on the world, one obstacle at a time. As 2011 comes to an end, I want to thank those of you who allowed me to share your stories with others and I look forward to the new inspirations I will meet in 2012. But for now, let's take a look at the past and some of our Young Achievers of 2011:
In August, we met: Echo ambassadors determined to help others 'be somebody.' For 11 high school students, summer wasn't about going to the beach or hanging out with friends - it was about being a peer educator to children in need. Take a look at their story: Echo ambassadors.
In September, we met: Elizabeth Anne Smith, who did everything she could to help her mother who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in April. Elizabeth Anne took it upon herself to create a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team - without telling her mom. She also created a board of adults to help her host a silent auction that attracted 130 guests and raised $9,700. Take a look at her story: Elizabeth Anne.
In October, we met: Mike Dong, who battles kidney disease. Since his first dialysis at age 15, he's also undergone a kidney transplant and found out he has diabetes, secured his own medical insurance and U.S. citizenship, and dug up internships in two cities - all while learning English and struggling to excel academically. Read Mike's story: Mike Dong.
Representing Young Achievers in the Carolina Living section, we met: Elexus White, a Garinger student determined to make it out of mediocrity. Elexus is the classic hard worker. She is an employee, an athlete, a student, a charitable giver and a journalist. I watched as she worked her three part-time jobs, juggled school work and was crowned homecoming queen.Read her story: Elexus White.
In November, we met: Austin Whitehead and Steven Pitts, two childhood friends who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in a continuous five-month-long journey. Steven and Austin took a gap year from school to spend their days trekking 15 to 30 miles on one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world. They encountered bears, trail magic and solitude. Take a look at their story: Austin and Steven.
In December, we met: Honoree' Brewton, a student at CATO Middle College High who wants to be a primatologist. Honoree' took her first college course at age 13 and began studying Chinese at age 14. Today, you can find her spending time in the Grand Asian Market in Matthews, brushing up on her Chinese skills. Read about her accomplishments: Honoree' Brewton.
So keep doing what you're doing Young Achievers and thank you for sharing your story with others!
Have someone in mind who fits the Young Achievers mold? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 704-358-6043.