5 Charlotte Student Leaders and their advice for us

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Michiyah IMG_3049

Michiyah Collins
Student Leader at Freedom School Partners
11th grader attending South Iredell High
Michiyah’s community service has focused of making people safe and improving the lives of others. In her work with the American Red Cross, she participated in fire canvassing across her community to make sure that people had working smoke alarms in addition to the right number of alarms in their homes. She has always dreamed of being a part of the American Red Cross because she wants to help bring a smile to someone’s face or a sign of relief. She believes that people who need help are sometimes too nervous or embarrassed to ask so she takes great pride in being the one who can do that. Through the Student Leaders program, Michiyah hopes to increase her initiative and communication skills along with how to convey one’s ideas effectively.

Michiyah’s advice:
The one piece of advice I would give to everyone in the room is to never let your struggles be a setback. Dwelling on your struggles will never help you, but accepting them as a part of life can truly help you succeed.


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Emma Caponigro
Student Leader at Freedom School Partners
12th grader attending Charlotte Catholic High School
For the past two years, Emma has been volunteering at the Mecklenburg County Teen Court as a prosecution and defense attorney. Doing this work has opened her eyes to the harsh reality of people who don’t have a voice. As a defense attorney, she emphasizes that people are only human and that we all make mistakes and volunteering at Teen Court provides kids ages 11-17 with a second chance after committing a misdemeanor. After completion of the sentence, the offense is expunged from a defendant’s record. Through the Student Leaders program, Emma hopes to gain leadership experience in a professional setting that teaches her proper discernment skills and how to ask the right questions so that she will be able to give the right solution.

Emma’s advice:
One thing I want people in the room to know about my generation is that we are very self-directed, after growing up with limitless knowledge available at the tips of our fingers. We will use this intrinsic motivation with the advantages of the digital age to affect positive global change.


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Vincent Hope
Student Leader at YMCA
11th grader attending East Mecklenburg High School
Vincent volunteers as a teacher assistant at Camp Invention where he has focused on developing the right communication skills and how to interact with middle-school aged students who come from various backgrounds. He is so passionate about mentoring that he also volunteers with McClintock Partners in Education (McPIE), a long-standing partnership between Christ Lutheran Church and McClintock Middle School where each week they host a family night featuring dinner, activities, tutoring and guidance. Through the Student Leaders program, Vincent wants to develop college and career readiness skills so that he can make a bigger impact on his community.

Vincent’s advice:
One piece of advice I would give is… Success is not getting on top of that hill by yourself, it’s getting on top of the hill, sharing your learning experiences with others that got you there and bringing others on top with you.


Maya IMG_3068

Maya Patel
Student Leader at Freedom School Partners
11th grader attending Ardrey Kell High Scholl
Maya is the vice president of the Girls Engineering Change (GEC) club that strives to close the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. Her club hosts annual events at a local Title 1 elementary school where she gets to teach girls about engineering. This event has inspired her to become a leader and help expose young girls to fields to help lift them out of poverty. Her passion for serving the underserved is also fulfilled in her community service with the North Star Reading Partner Initiative where she helps an underachieving student by reading with them and focusing on comprehension. Through the Student Leaders program, Maya wants to broaden her leadership skills because in her opinion successful leaders encourage others to embrace their vision for innovation and creativity.

Maya’s advice:
One thing I would like the people in this room to know about Generation Z is compared to previous generations we are more open-minded to new ideas, different cultures and people, and we truly value diversity


Victoria xu

Victoria Xu
Student Leader at YWCA
11th grader attending Providence Day School
Victoria is the co-creator of “Happy Walls” – a community service organization dedicated to painting murals in schools to foster a welcoming and cheerful environment to help students feel more comfortable and open to learning. She led the design of their first mural, which was whimsical Seuss-inspired and completed in just after five days. Happy Walls also works to bridge the inequality between the school environments of public and private schools because Victoria believes that learning quality should not be determined by financial status. Through the Student Leaders program, Victoria wants to learn to be a better communicator because she’s learned that being able to inspire others and efficiently coordinate efforts is the key to effecting real, large-scale change.

Victoria’s advice
With the huge growth of social media and the instantaneous reach it has, many in my generation have more and more exposure to social justice issues and access to platforms to speak up about their own experiences. However, as powerful as social media is in distributing information, a huge issue that has come up among many in generation Z is mobilizing people to turn hashtags into actual, tangible action and change. Exposure is very important, but it’s one thing to be aware of issues and another to know what you can do about them.

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