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20 Under 20: Georgia’s Top Teens

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Twenty under 20.

That is what youth awardees were known as on Thursday, February 26.

21st Century Leaders hosted their seventh annual Georgia Youth Leadership Awards (GYLA) at the Omni Hotel located in the CNN Center in Atlanta. The awards ceremony was started to celebrate and recognize outstanding high school leaders in Georgia.

According to the 21st Century website, the GYLA is a fundraising event that honors and celebrates the achievements of 20 high school students across Georgia.

“All students are nominated for the Georgia Youth Leadership Awards either from a teacher, counselor, mentor or friend,” said Kate Hewitt, the organization’s communications and marketing manager, in an email interview with VOX. “When nominations are being reviewed, the selection committee accepts students who exemplify the five leadership qualities that truly embody a 21st century leader: passionate, forward-thinking, leverage diversity, resourceful and service-oriented.”

VOX’s own Sania Chandrani, a senior at Parkview High School and 21st Century GYLA honoree, found out about this organization through VOX.

“Katie (VOX Staff) nominated me for the award a couple of months ago, and I heard about it through that. And when I won I got an email from 21st Century that I was an awardee,” she said.

Being a 20 under 20 recipient means that each student selected has done something extraordinary in or out of school. Chandrani’s biggest involvement, she said, was in politics.

“During the 2014 election cycle, I interned with Michelle Nunn’s senatorial campaign,” she said. “I did learn a lot through the process of the campaign as one of the first and youngest people who were volunteering with the campaign as a high schooler. It was a great opportunity for me to get into the political realm.”

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Although not mentioned in Chandrani’s nomination, she also used her interest in politics to create a club with her school friends called Global Activists. The goal of the club is to raise international awareness about different cultures around the world and about the international place the U.S. really is. Her passion for politics comes from being an immigrant to the U.S. when she was 4.

“Being involved in politics has allowed me to get people like me to get involved, so that they feel like they do have a voice,” she said.

Each student who won the award was also presented with a $250 mini grant toward their organization, and one student, Ima Christian, went home with the Turner Voices award and a $500 grant to continue their work.

Christian is the co-founder and CEO of Pinetart, Inc, where she and her two younger siblings created a mobile app called Five-O, that she said, “allows citizens to rate, review, and track their interactions with law enforcement, both good and bad.”

Within the first two weeks of its release on Google Play, Five-O had more than 10,000 downloads, and Christian has spoken with both CNN and Business Insider about the app. “Because of the media content that we’ve been getting and the stories that are picking up…we’re in the process of making Five-O 2.O,” Christian told VOX.

There’s more to this Parkview High School senior than Five-O. Christian also extends her outreach by partnering with elementary schools to create Community Tech days, which introduce computer science to children.

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Another 21st Century Leaders honoree Chad Carrodus founded a non-profit organization called Atlanta Children’s Charity.

Knowing that there were barriers and limitations for teens to volunteer, Carrodus, a junior at George Walton High School, says he wanted to make volunteering more accessible for students.

Founded in his sophomore year with more than 140 student members, Carrodus works with Ronald McDonald House and Mercy Care.

“We make it really easy for students to volunteer; that’s the whole platform [of this organization],” Carrodus said.

Aside from his nonprofit work, Carrodus also sells private jets for a private aviation company. With his aviation job, community service and academics, Carrodus wants to continue his passions while majoring in finance in college.

Romeo Henderson and a couple of his friends created a game designing company, Division Zero, which they started a few months ago. Henderson, CEO and creative director of the company, said they are currently working on a mobile game for iOS and Android. Henderson said that the club was made “to help other students learn how to code and things of that sort.”

His grant is going to support his club, so they can get better equipment for their team.

“We have extensive knowledge on game design,” he said.

Like her peers, Chandrani was excited for her award that symbolized one of her greatest accomplishments.

“This award is my biggest win.”

Read about all the winners of the GYLA 2015 awards here!

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