One year ago, the Young Achievers section began telling stories of inspiring youth in our community, reaching out, setting standards, helping others and rising above what others would find crippling adversity. Today, we celebrate by checking in with a few of the young people featured this year.
By midsummer 2011, Lewis had already journeyed across the Himalayas, worked with elephants in Thailand and played with orphans in China. Previously attending Northwest School of the Arts, he has spent this year traveling the world with his father, J.D. Lewis, and brother, Buck Lewis, on a mission the family calls Twelve in Twelve: 12 countries in 12 months, helping people along the way. At each stop, the family volunteers with organizations in need of help. Since he appeared in these pages, he has spent a month at a Buddhist monastery in south-central India, visited the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, worked at The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village with orphans from the genocide in Rwanda, and joined scientists on a ship in Antarctica. You get to hang out with the people, see how they live, eat what they eat, experience their culture. Its amazing, Lewis wrote. I have learned that people really appreciate the help from volunteers ... I think if more people realized how cool it is to volunteer, more people would do it.
Seeking a challenge in her life, Ramos, a graduate of Garinger High, joined the Marine Corps at age 19. Now her days start early in Pensacola, Fla., where she is based up at 5 a.m., then off to class, where she is studying avionics and learning how to fix planes. Since Ramos story was published in February, she has been promoted from private 1st class to lance corporal. She also began taking classes in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and has earned a gray belt, three belts away from black. My journey is still long and steady. I am hanging on and expect nothing but the best with my familys help, Ramos said in an email. I am working hard to make them proud of what I am doing and what I work so hard for, because I love my country.
Read our first story about Ramos at bit.ly/KQXt2r.
Haven, a Fairview Elementary student, began traveling each summer to the poverty-stricken village of Harmons, Jamaica, when she was 4. Seeing the harsh living conditions there, Haven wanted to pitch in. In 2009, she began collecting school shoes, which residents told her were a significant need. That year, she collected 17 pairs to donate. Since a YA article about her ran last fall, said her mother, Haven has received donations of shoes and money from people in five states, and held a 5K at her school to collect shoes. In April, she delivered 150 pairs of shoes. Haven has started collecting for her next trip, in October. Drop-offs all sizes can be made at Team Church, 2301 Stevens Mill Road in Matthews.
When White first appeared in the Observer, she wasnt easily defined. She still isnt. Then, she was a blogger, athlete, student, charitable giver and employee. She started as goalie on her schools soccer team, took public transportation to three part-time jobs, and when she wasnt working, blogged about Jared Sullinger, a power forward for Ohio State the school she dreamed of attending one day. She was crowned homecoming queen at Garinger High in September, with the Young Achievers reporter in attendance, and says the YA section was on her mind the day she found out she was accepted to Ohio State. White received a $20,000 Broad Scholarship from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and is now packing for Columbus, Ohio. My perseverance is what got me to this level, she said. Though Im far from perfect, I learned that if I keep trying and asking myself What if? I strive for more.
Nation Ford High rising junior Williams is no stranger to the camera. When readers met her, she was getting up close and personal with a zebra while filming a broadcast segment at Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville. At the time, her largest recognition came from working at Teen Kids News, a weekly show that airs nationally and was founded by Albert Primo, who created Eyewitness News for adults. Today, Williams continues to pursue her dream of becoming a TV anchor. In June, she filmed three segments in Baltimore for Teen Kids News. I am so happy that I had the privilege and opportunity to shoot for Teen Kids News in some of the most famous locations in Baltimore, said Williams, whose dream is to be on the Today Show
and to be interviewed by Ellen, Oprah or Katie Couric.
Fogarty was and is out to save lives. She created an organ donation program called The Ultimate Gift, educating classmates about donation and encouraging them to become donors. She has since graduated from Providence High and will attend Yale this fall. She was offered a Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship (a full academic scholarship to Duke) as well as National Merit and Burger King scholarships, and is one of 250 (of 84,000 applicants) to receive a Coca-Cola Scholarship. She was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalist and a National Advanced Placement Scholar, received the Heart of Grace Community Service Award from Pfeiffer University and a Presidential Service Award for the fourth consecutive year, all while continuing to work with DonateLife North Carolina. At Yale, she will play varsity golf, and hopes to join a singing group. I (also) plan to continue my organ donation outreach, she said.
McCluskey, now a rising junior at Metrolina Christian Academy, had an idea for a gadget that might save infants. Called the Baby Safe Rider, it was designed to prevent infant fatalities by alerting parents or passers-by of a baby left in a locked car by accident. McCluskey entered his idea, against 1,100 competitors nationwide, in the Wouldnt It Be Cool If... contest. Judges, along with supporter and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, liked his idea and named McCluskey the national winner. He traveled to New York in June to work with Fahrenheit 212, an innovation consultancy. We are trying to develop a prototype, then
we will have a video explaining my idea, McCluskey said. In four months I will be back in NYC pitching my Baby Safe Rider to a group of investors! It is going to be a difficult, but fun and exciting summer, and I am up for the challenge!