In today’s rapidly changing world, advocacy and activism are essential tools for driving meaningful change, particularly among the younger generation. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ Rising Leaders Initiative is an exceptional program that empowers students to be advocates for their schools and the causes that directly impact them and their peers.
Today, we are thrilled to congratulate the 10 exceptional rising leaders who have successfully completed the program. These remarkable students have already made an indelible mark on their communities, showcasing the potential and power of today’s young change-makers.
Dylan Conard, Valor College Prep
Dylan Conard is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to advocating for meaningful change. As a high school student, he boldly spoke at the State Capitol Building in Tennessee following the Covenant School shooting in his community, demanding gun control legislation. Dylan’s determination didn’t stop there. He also lobbied the Tennessee State Legislature to pass a bill protecting victims of sexual assault. Furthermore, he organized a school-wide rally to advocate for transparency in policies and decisions.
Now a freshman at Princeton University, Dylan is majoring in Math and Computer Science. He is determined to continue his advocacy work in local communities and actively fight climate change through data science research.
Alayna Crafton, Palmetto Scholars Academy
Alayna Crafton is a trailblazer who established a civics advocacy club through the Rising Leaders program. Her “PSA Civic Advocacy” club focuses on voter registration, community engagement, and empowering students to participate in civic activities. Alayna has already made a significant impact, hosting voter registration training and a drive that registered over 20 students to vote.
Her journey as a Rising Leader boosted her confidence and made her a passionate advocate for change. As she continues her education this fall at Guilford College, Alayna has secured another student leader to keep the club going. She plans to collaborate with the club’s new leader to create impactful events.
Naimisha Chakravadhanula, BASIS Scottsdale
Naimisha Chakravadhanula is a true advocate for educational equality. She founded an advocacy club dedicated to promoting equal opportunities for all students. Naimisha’s club organized events like a congressional letter-writing event, awareness week, and a humanities career seminar, all aimed at bridging the education gap.
Her work extends beyond her community. Naimisha collaborated with National School Choice Week to raise awareness of educational opportunities. Her dedication to advocacy and empowering young Asian Americans shines through her insightful blog posts and plans to continue making a difference.
Daniyal Hussain, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School
Daniyal Hussain is a remarkable advocate who started an advocacy club at his school. Daniyal has successfully advocated for important bills in the New Mexico State Legislature and presented at 50Can New Mexico on a student panel. His advocacy even helped secure funding for IB testing in New Mexico.
Daniyal’s ambitions extend to college, where he plans to study political science and public policy, become a legislator and continue his advocacy efforts for causes he is passionate about.
Jah’mere Jackson, Riverhead Charter School
Jah’mere Jackson is a young advocate dedicated to improving education. He founded the Student History Curriculum Unit and the Student Translation Unit, both aimed at making education more accessible and inclusive. Additionally, he is developing a mentoring program to empower underclassmen to become more active in their school community and develop their leadership skills.
With dreams of attending Howard University and studying history and sociology, Jah’mere plans to continue expanding his advocacy through his club this fall.
Stephanie Robinson, Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas
Stephanie Robinson is an advocate with a flair for writing. Her essay “Why are We the Future of Education?” was featured in a compilation of essays on the charter school movement from diverse voices in the sector. She established a student-led help desk to help her peers with various life and career issues and organized a college and career fair in partnership with UNLV.
Stephanie’s plans involve enlisting in the U.S. Air Force while double majoring in Cybersecurity and Tech Forensics. She plans to serve as a mentor to Falcon Compass, the advocacy club she started through Rising Leaders, and utilize her network and resources to inspire students.
Lauren Ejiaga, Benjamin Franklin High School
Lauren Ejiaga is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and diversity in STEM fields. She revamped her school’s podcast club to include mental health discussions and advocacy for more programs that support students at her school. She also launched after-school programs to encourage girls’ interest in STEAM opportunities and to foster confidence.
Now a freshman at Louisiana State University, Lauren plans to continue mentoring her advocacy club, and pursue a degree in Neuroscience and Environmental Studies.
Isabella Paez, Mater Academy Charter Middle and High School
Isabella Paez is an advocate dedicated to expanding academic resources for low-income and immigrant students. Through her club, “Mater Rise Up,” she provides vital information on internships, summer programs, and community service opportunities. Isabella’s platform is digital-based, but she also aims to expand to in-person outreach programs.
Isabella plans to keep her advocacy club going in the fall. And as a rising junior, she is researching colleges and wants to become a lawyer and work in public policy and marketing/research for advocacy groups.
Dayanna Vann, Canton Preparatory High School
Dayanna Vann has been making waves as a young advocate, speaking at school board meetings, and advocating for mental health. She created a program that addresses mental health awareness and supports students.
Dayanna will be a freshman at Howard University this fall, majoring in psychology. She plans to go to graduate school afterward to obtain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and practice as a child psychologist.
Dylan Park, Washington Latin Public Charter School
Dylan Park is a passionate advocate for AAPI empowerment and education. He has spoken at prestigious conferences, including the 2022 National Charter Schools Conference, and leads various clubs that focus on education and AAPI representation.
In college, Dylan plans to explore psychology, Asian American studies, and pre-law, actively engaging in advocacy and empowering students.
These ten students are exemplary Rising Leaders, using their voices and passion to ignite change within their school community. Their journey highlights the significance of youth advocacy and the remarkable impact young individuals can have.
Sindy Pierre-Noel is the director of programs at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.