Lauren launched a project to help victims of psoriasis as a way to honor her father, who has long battled the disease. Four years ago, she created her first walk. Her walks have since raised more than $200,000 and inspired walks in 22 other cities. She has been an ambassador and youth spokesman for the National Psoriasis Foundation. When Lauren was diagnosed with the disease in 2009, medicine to alleviate pain caused her to lose her hair and 25 pounds. As she felt better, Lauren caught up in school and created the organization Pso Like U, which aims to link children suffering from the disease. Lauren was instrumental in gaining legislative backing for the first psoriasis patient registry at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is also an award-winning photographer. Lauren will attend Duke University.
Honorable mentions: Shaquira Robinson, Young Women's Preparatory Academy; Liana Alicia Guerra, Southwest Miami Senior High; Pulkit Agrawal, North Miami Senior High..
Miami Carol City Senior High School
Tormented by a troubled childhood, Stephanie wanted to help other teens facing similar problems. She reached out to girls in her community, forming a support group called Birthing Imperishable Diamonds. Stephanie, whose mother faced life-threatening injuries when she was shot by a boyfriend, worked with teens to build their self-esteem. She provided counseling, tutoring, mentoring and support. The group, which expanded to three chapters, held retreats, went on picnics, studied together and formed bonds. Stephanie helped the teens express themselvesthrough writing and art. Stephanie, who has served on the youth advisory board of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, received the President's Volunteer Service Award. She has also repeatedly placed in the state and regional SkillsUSA competitions.
Honorable mentions: Veronica Esther Dagostino, Mater Academy; Ayesha Ali Sayed, American Senior High; Joshua Evan Kleinman, Ben Lipson Hillel Community High.
Coral Reef Senior High School
A visit to a child care center with her Spanish Honor Society inspired Nathalie to come up with ideas for the center's afterschool program. Nathalie offered the children various activities, including soccer, painting, first-aid skills and healthy eating habits. For the next two years, she visited regularly as part of her project, Kids Without Limits, teaching various skills to children from low-income families. Nathalie served as state president of the Florida Health Occupations Students of America. She was also a peer leader in her church's youth ministry. Nathalie has maintained a rigorous academic schedule in her school's health science academy, taking both AP and college classes. Nathalie received a President's Volunteer Service Award, was named an AP Scholar with Honor and was awarded a Posse full-tuition scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania.
Honorable mentions: Carlos O. Rigali, Hialeah Gardens Senior High; Geraldine Placide, Miami Edison Senior High; Charlton Cheng, John A. Ferguson Senior High.
Miami Palmetto Senior High School
For nearly three years, Daniel has spent most Saturdays rounding up supplies for a small church in the Dominican Republic. While visiting the church on a trip, he noticed a community center for impoverished children. He decided he wanted to help, and launched a large-scale project. Daniel held garage sales to raise money for items such as toiletries and school supplies for the 48 children. Daniel also collected books, toys, clothing and used computers, which he fixed. He devoted nearly 500 hours to the project. Daniel also organized a pen pal program to encourage the children to write. He won the Hispanic Heritage Youth Award for Community Service, was president of the Spanish Honor Society, served on his student council and was named an AP Scholar with Distinction. Daniel has earned recognition and admission offers from a host of top tier universities.
Honorable mentions: Tatiana Suridis, Ransom Everglades School; Ariadna Bu, Hialeah Senior High; Yelena Orrelly, Southwest Miami Senior High.