A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Lily Sweet King is a freshman studying Integrated Marketing Communications at The University of Mississippi. She is a Provost Scholar, member of the MPower Leadership Team, 2018 U.S. Presidential Service Volunteer Award recipient, 2018 VFW State of Florida Scout of the Year, a GOLD award Girl Scout, a pledge of Pi Beta Phi sorority, and was named to the Fall 2018 Chancellor’s Honor Roll. She is the creator of the all-youth The Longest Table, a peer-to-peer event that brings students from all backgrounds together for dinner and dialogue. Last year, 120 students from all 12 area high schools attended the Leon County Longest Table. King was a mentor for this year’s chairs, with the event bringing together 250 students for civil discourse. This spring, with the help of several campus organizations, she will host The Longest Table at Ole Miss in the Grove to build unity, foster understanding, and spark change on campus.

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Vanesa Carrillo is a senior at Bel Air High School in El Paso, TX. She is also a part-time Community College student at El Paso Community College where she has earned over 30 college credit hours. Vanesa is the President of her Spanish Honor Society chapter and President/Co-Founder of her school’s first all-girls business empowerment club called JWIB. She has successfully completed a Congressional Internship with former Congressman Beto O’Rourke and is currently a Marketing Intern for the Nonprofit organization called Latinitas, where she manages all social media and outreach sites. Vanesa is also part of The College Board Youth Advisory Board, The Federal Reserves Dallas Bank Board of Directors and The El Paso Jr. Leadership Greater Chamber Organization. Vanesa has also taken time to conduct research with a doctorate professor in a 6-week summer camp at UT Arlington. Aside from school, Vanesa enjoys to write, sing as well as Volunteer for The Chamizal National Memorial Park. Vanesa plans on majoring in Marketing with a minor in Psychology at The University of Texas at El Paso.

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Hi, my name is Kennedy Owens. I am in 7th grade and I attend Sergeant Smith Middle School in Tampa, Florida. In my spare time, I really like editing videos, drawing original characters, reading webtoons, and writing stories. What convinced me to make the “Constitution Coloring” business plan was so I could provide a resource for kids to learn about the Constitution in a fun way. Also, I wanted to make a product that kids could use even if they don’t have access to technology. I am again very thankful for this opportunity.

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The premise of my life has been that all things, both good and bad, work in my favor to fulfill my purpose in life. At only 21 years of age, I am still piecing together exactly what I am meant to do for humanity, however, I am certain that all I have endured is the reason I am here today reaping the benefits of this wonderful scholarship award! I am just a girl from 79th Street in Chicago who lost her father at age five to gun violence and was raised by a single mother just trying to make ends meet. I am the girl who watched her mother have a stroke before her eyes and became a primary caregiver at the age of 15 years old.

A few years ago, if you looked at me you would wonder how was this girl who spent every waking moment at home taking care of her disabled mother and every moment at school catching up on sleep going to get into the top Historically Black College/University (HBCU) in the country and thrive on its grounds. Truth be told, I couldn’t answer for you either. All I know is I have been intuned with my inner voice since I was a child. My inner voice guided me through all adversities I had to face. My inner voice could see all I was surrounded by and keep me reminded that I wanted more out of life for myself and loved ones. That inner voice spoke to me daily through caregiving, homelessness, and dark nights of depression. It told me there was more out there for me but I needed to fight for it.

I fought what seemed to be aimlessly to maintain a high GPA, pay my entire tuition throughout college alone, and still have a smile on my face and desire in my heart to see the finish line. Well as a senior at Howard University, I am almost at the finish line where I will be receiving a Bachelors of Arts degree in Media, Journalism, and Film Studies May of 2018. At the finish line I see tears of joy and an opportunity to return to my hometown and pour the same love and growth into it as it has poured into me. I came into senior year not knowing how I would finish financially. I am so thankful to say that We The Future Contest has helped solve that problem for me! To anyone out there with a similar story or facing adversity, I just want you to know that there is good in everything that happens to you. The more you trust in this mindset and your abilities to overcome all adversities, the more you will see life work in your favor.

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Lindsay Gallagher is a senior at Spencerport High School in Spencerport, NY. She is the manager of her school’s bookstore, the Vice President of Competition for her DECA chapter, the president of her school’s Business Honor Society, the president of her Model UN team, and the founder and president of her school’s Girl Up Club. She is also the Regional Summit and Event Coordinator for the Upstate New York Girl Up Coalition and works as a pharmacy technician at the Wegmans Pharmacy. Lindsay is excited to be attending college next year to major in Finance.

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Tova Love Kaplan, 13, is an eighth grader in the Chicago Public School system attending Whitney Young High School’s Academic Center. One of the most established and competitive middle schools in the nation, the school for the academically advanced averages 2,000 applicants for its 120 seats. Tova is also a professional actor with a musical theater background and featured roles at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Mercury Theater Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Choir, and Paramount Theatre. Her commercial work has included TV spots and video projects for the Wisconsin Dells Tourism board, Second City Networks and Onion Productions. Tova is a member of Student Council, Girl Scouts, and Best Buddies, a student-run friendship club between typical peers and those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. On weekends, she is a Hebrew school teacher aide and also raises money for Bake Sale for Justice, a monthly event held by families that fights for justice for all people.

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Cody Woods is a Sophomore at Morehouse College majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Atlanta, GA. Cody shared his story with us. In my life, there have been three teachers that have taught me so much, and those teachers are Adversity, Pain, and Failure. When I was young I was ridiculed and misunderstood because I was different, but according to worldly standards I was well off because my family was doing well. Until the economic recession in 2008, and I was stripped of what I thought of as my normal. I lost my home, all of my possessions, and my family as I knew it, and we had to do whatever it took to survive. Eventually, I hit bedrock and at my bedrock is where I found God, and he found me in the scrap yard of disparity, and Changed my life and my perception. My teachers turned from Adversity, Pain, and Failure to Perseverance, Grace, and Favor. Know I am operating in my purpose and my gift of Glorifying him, and changing the world through my mind and heart for entrepreneurship, which has now brought me to Morehouse College. During my matriculation I have been Blessed to go to China to get an international perspective on life, become one the heads of a student organization as a freshman, which has taught me leadership skills, and intern at a notable record label that has allowed me to reinvent my mind for entrepreneurship, and Love for my fellow man. Where I am at now is far from the beginning because I know through my works and Faith I will be able to go places and help people beyond own dreams and understanding. The sky is not the limit, it is just the beginning.

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Quinten, 15, Best Middle School Entrepreneurial Winner, lives in Suwanee, GA and is currently a freshman in high school. He plays basketball and enjoys drawing and listening to music. Quinten’s favorite subjects are Social Studies and Science. Quinten recently traveled to Vermont and New Jersey to see extended family and looks to travel more in the future. Quinten is a talented artist, who enjoys developing his craft.

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Greg Volynsky, 17, the best entrepreneurship winner, is a native of New Jersey and a student at the Bergen County Academies. Throughout his high school career, Greg has continually explored various fields; engineering research became an entrepreneurial experience, passionate discussions turned into formal debate. Greg is an active method of the Junior Statesmen of America and coaches debate at the Bergen County Debate Club. For Greg, discussions are both intellectually stimulating and plain interesting; but they are not enough. Recently, Greg began to volunteer on a local city-wide campaign, where he works directly with the candidate to draft policy proposals. Furthermore, Greg realized that most media coverage is political commentary, not actual policy analysis; so Greg launched a website – Politiscope News (PolitiscopeNews.com), which aggregates policy-related articles and analysis. Greg hopes to continue to turn conversations into actions wherever he goes and to apply the entrepreneurial approach to government, for it is by thinking creatively and pursuing policy beyond the constraints of politics that we can harness innovative solutions to help real people.

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