2019 Learner Profiles

For the 2019 Leadership Collective, we welcomed learners from nine different countries — the United States, Mexico, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Syria, Madagascar, South Africa, India, and Nepal. Get to know them below, and follow their perspective on their journey through their blogs!

Aidan is senior in high school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is from a mountainous area called Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico. He describes himself as a Native American, a laugh, and a photographer. One of his best photographic subjects is his Pueblo. He looks forward to meeting everyone on the Leadership Collective and becoming good friends.

Aidan Suazo Taos, New Mexico, USASee All Blogs

Annika is a senior in high school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but she is from Los Angeles, California. She is ambition and outgoing, playing soccer and doing cheer, track, and even boxing. Annika is excited for the adventure of the Leadership Collective to make great, interesting friends and have new experiences. She believes you should not judge anything or anyone until you have walked in their shoes.

Annika ShijeLos Angeles, California, USASee All Blogs

Ashley is a junior at a middle college in North Carolina. She likes to bake and used to be in the marching band as part of the colorguard. She is interested in the nursing field when she graduates and describes herself as outgoing and trustworthy. Ashley is excited to travel to India on the Leadership Collective to learn about the culture, try different types of food, and explore and experience new things.

Ashley VangMorganton, North Carolina, USASee All Blogs

Chaithanya is in 12th Standard in school, living in the southern hill station of Coorg. She likes working with kids in her free time, like helping them with their homework and volunteering at a local orphanage. She hasn’t been able to travel much around India yet, so she’s excited that the Leadership Collective will allow her to see new places in India. Chaithanya likes to make new friends and talking with others, so she’s excited to travel with the group.

Chaithanya SiddandaMadikeri, Karnataka, IndiaSee All Blogs

Christian is a senior in high school in Oakland, California. He enjoys both playing and watching baseball and basketball, spending time outdoors, and trying new food. He describes himself as positive and, at times, sarcastic. On the Leadership Collective, Christian is excited to see how youth in India have helped their communities to become a better place.

Christian CarmonaOakland, California, USASee All Blogs

Courtney is from Hanover Park in Cape Town, where she is part of a surfing organization called Waves for Change. She loves being outdoors and near the ocean where she surfs and swims. Courtney describes herself as good at managing and organizing events and programming. For the Leadership Collective, she is very excited to meet all the fellow students and to interact with everyone. She is excited to learn and experience and new things in India.

Courtney BarnesCape Town, Western Cape, South AfricaSee All Blogs

David is a junior in high school in East Palo Alto, California, and he calls many parts of California home. He likes creating music, poetry, and spoken word. David describes himself as an open person who likes being there for others. For the Leadership Collective, he’s excited to be able to go to another country and take a leadership role. Traveling is new for him, but he wants to travel a lot in the future!

David ChiversVallejo, California, USA See All Blogs

Elsy is a senior in high school in Oakland, California, but she is originally from Mexico. She loves to dance and can always be found on the dance floor. She also likes poetry and books. Elsy is most excited to meet new people from around the world while on the Leadership Collective. She hopes to learn a lot from the experience, including traveling around India and learning from their rich and complex history.

Elsy Huidor CabreraOakland, California, USASee All Blogs

Ezzedeen is in grade 11 in school in Lebanon, though he is originally from Syria. He likes learning about the history, cultures, and tradition of people around the world. Ezzedeen was interested in joining the Leadership Collective to gain more leadership skills and learn more about identifying solutions to problems. He is also excited about making new friends from around the world.

Ezz Edeen AlhafiriDamascus, SyriaSee All Blogs

Gabriel is a junior in high school in North Carolina. His hobbies include running, tennis, painting, and anything outdoors. He also is involved in performing music and can play a few instruments. Gabe loves to learn, travel, and meet new people, which is what drew him to the Leadership Collective.

Gabriel PowersWest Jefferson, North Carolina, USASee All Blogs

Ilham is a junior in high school in Portland, Oregon. She likes to watch Bollywood and Hollywood movies. If she’s doing an outdoor sport, she likes playing soccer. Ilham describes herself as a social, yet shy person. She’s excited about the Leadership Collective because it will allow her to learn more about a different culture and meet new people.

Ilham NoorPortland, Oregon, USASee All Blogs

Jamie Lee is from the Salt River area of Cape Town. She likes to make jokes and make people happy. She also describes herself as a well-respected young adult who is always there for people. With the Leadership Collective, Jamie Lee is excited to travel and meet all of the students.

Jamie Lee KennieCape Town, Western Cape, South Africa See All Blogs

Judeline is a junior in high school in Boston, Massachusetts. Even though she lives in a snowy area, she is not a fan of the snow. She describes herself as shy and introverted at times. Judeline is most excited for the opportunity to travel across the world and meet people. On the Leadership Collective, she’s also excited to experience a different culture.

Judeline JosephBoston, Massachusetts, USASee All Blogs

Kalin is a sophomore in high school in Breathitt County in Kentucky. She likes to play softball and basketball. Kalin describes herself as an outgoing person who believes that kindness is key. For the Leadership Collective, she’s excited to see a new country. Because she also likes to meet other people, she looks forward to meeting amazing people and learning about how they live their life.

Kalin CarrollJackson, Kentucky, USASee All Blogs

Khanyisile is from the small township of Alexandra in South Africa. She participates in a local NGO called Grassroot Soccer and grew up playing soccer. Khanyisile is passionate about gender equality and the rights of the people in her township. With the Leadership Collective, she is looking forward to traveling with the group to learn more about how they deal with issues in their community.

Khanyisile MaphanjwaAlexandra, Gauteng, South AfricaSee All Blogs

Kultwisiso is from just outside Cape Town in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. He loves politics and debating because he is concerned about what is happening in the world around him. So, he’s particularly excited about this year’s Leadership Collective theme of Youth Citizenship. Kultwisiso also looks forward to learning about India and the other cultures on the trip.

Kutlwisiso Mzaca Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South AfricaSee All Blogs

Madison is a junior in high school in Parkland, Florida, though she was born in Georgia. She plays basketball for her high school. She describes herself as an extrovert who loves meeting new people and being able to express herself. Madi is excited about the Leadership Collective opportunity because it will provide her with a chance to learn new things that will help her grow and expand her horizons. She is also excited learn about a new culture and lifestyle.

Madison GoodmanParkland, Florida, USASee All Blogs

Merry is in 12th standard in her town in Assam in Northeast India. She likes to play badminton and enjoys doing traditional dances. For the Leadership Collective, she looks forward to traveling in the country and learning about the different cultures and traditions. She’s excited to be a part of the Leadership Collective. In the future, Merry hopes to travel all over the world.

Merry PeguMajuli, Assam, IndiaSee All Blogs

Michelle is a junior in high school in Chicago. She has two younger sisters and likes to play volleyball. Michelle also likes to read, and her current favorite book is The Alchemist. For the Leadership Collective program, she is excited because you hear about these kinds of opportunities all the time. You think, “Wow, that couldn’t possibly apply to someone like me.” But sooner or later you find that someone you know got the chance to do something similar. It gives you perspective and shows just how real and possible things are.

Michelle RuizChicago, Illinois, USASee All Blogs

Mitali is in 11th standard in Mumbai. She loves to paint and very much loves colors. Mitali also enjoys Bollywood music, particularly old Bollywood songs. She’s always busy with lots of extracurricular activities. For the Leadership Collective, she’s very excited to share her country and bring change to the way that people look at India. She also looks forward to making lifelong friends and unforgettable memories.

Mitali SakariaMumbai, Maharashtra, IndiaSee All Blogs

Mohammad is in government junior college in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. He likes drawing, running, and cycling. He also likes cooking, spicy food, and trying new recipes. Mohammad has not traveled to the places on the Leadership Collective, so he is excited to see these places of his country with people from different communities and cultures.

Mohammad Ali Shaik Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, IndiaSee All Blogs

Monica is in high school in Bulgaria. She enjoys reading, writing essays and delivering speeches around the country. Monica also enjoys having fun with her family. The Leadership Collective is a combination of two of her dreams — living with people from all over the world and exploring a new culture. She looks forward to meeting everyone!

Monica MitovaBlagoevgrad, BulgariaSee All Blogs

Nailah is a junior in high school in New Jersey. She’s very interested in art and fashion and is an entrepreneur. Nailah is also a member of her school’s step team. She describes herself as friendly outgoing, so she’s excited to get to know everyone and create new friendships as a part of the Leadership Collective opportunity!

Nailah MuhammadNewark, New Jersey, USASee All Blogs

Naveen is in 11th standard pursuing engineering. He describes a funny fact about himself as his need to sleep when he gets frustrated — it’s a trick to get him back to himself. For the Leadership Collective, he believes it is a great opportunity for him to develop his leadership qualities. Plus, he is excited to visit different places in India that he’s only heard of while meeting new friends.

Naveen UmapathiTirupati, Andhra Pradesh, IndiaSee All Blogs

Olga is junior in high school in Chicago. She’s very interested in learning languages and music, including Korean, ASL, and Spanish. There is a lot she is looking forward to for the Leadership Collective, including experiences new foods, meeting new people, and exploring a culture different than her own. Olga is also looking forward to returning back to her community to share her learning and love for a new place.

Olga GarciaChicago, Illinois, USASee All Blogs

Oriannah is in high school in Madagascar. She likes dance, talk, and laugh a lot. She describes herself as sociable and someone who likes to challenge herself. Oriannah is looking forward to not only traveling to India and meeting new people, but is also very much looking forward to sharing her culture with everyone.

Oriannah AndrikhaSambava, MadagascarSee All Blogs

Phila attends school in Johannesburg, where he likes to engage with arts and debate. For arts, he likes dance, music, and painting. His favorite hobbies are reading romantic novels and gardening. Phila likes challenges, so he is looking forward to the challenges that the Leadership Collective will bring. He’s also excited to learn about India and gain a perspective on the world.

Phila Dhlamini Soweto, Johannesburg, South AfricaSee All Blogs

Queenshe’ba is a junior in high school in New Orleans. She likes to take pictures and videos and describes herself as goofy, friendly, and fun. She is excited about meeting everyone and traveling generally. Queenshe’ba is interested to learn more about the India’s culture and environment on the Leadership Collective, particularly because she knows that is will be so different from her home.

Queenshe’ba O’Conner New Orleans, Louisiana, USASee All Blogs

Raj is completing his 11th standard in Science and Maths at Topdara Ajmer. His hobbies are singing, dancing, writing, and watching TV. Raj describes himself as fun-loving, confident, and someone who respects everyone. He’s excited about the Leadership Collective as an opportunity to develop leadership qualities and visit new places to learn about the rich history of his country. He’s also excited to make new friends.

Raj KumarAjmer, Rajasthan, IndiaSee All Blogs

Rico is sophomore in high school in Denver, Colorado. He finds politics extremely interesting, and knows that that it is important for youth to engage with in it. Rico is, therefore, excited with this year’s Leadership Collective theme of Youth Citizenship. He looks forward to learning from the cultures of India and the cultures of his peers on the Leadership Collective. He likes meeting new people.

Rico Givens-Padilla Denver, Colorado, USASee All Blogs

Rohini is in her first year of higher secondary school in Darjeeling studying mathematics. She describes herself as quiet, but likes to work for things outside of her comfort zone. This has led her to take part in debates, seminars, and dances. She hopes to continue this as part of the Leadership Collective. Rohini also looks forward to exploring new places and meeting new people.

Rohini SharmaDarjeeling, West Bengal, IndiaSee All Blogs

Sajed is a junior in high school in Brooklyn, New York. He enjoys playing basketball, education, and engaging with people in general. He describes himself as an old soul, but one is very passionate and motivate to achieve his goals. Sajed is most excited about the learning about India through the Leadership Collective — India’s culture, customs, ways of life, etc. He’s interested to understand the similarities and differences between life there and his life.

Sajed Malik Ali Muhammad New York City, New York, USASee All Blogs

Sanu is studying in Kathmandu, Nepal, but she is originally from a more southern area called Lalitpur. She really loves to listen to stories of people because it helps her to stay both strong and motivated. Through the Leadership Collective, Sanu is looking forward to building trust and relationships.

Sanu BholonLalitpur, NepalSee All Blogs

Sedonia is a junior in high school in Louisiana. Her interests include learning Spanish, drawing, singing, and sharing memes. Sedonia is one of seven children, and the only girl. She hopes to become a psychiatrist in the future. From the Leadership Collective, she hopes to gain a better understanding of different cultures. She also hopes to learn how to better adapt to new things like music, food, and travel.

Sedonia DavisPort Barre, Louisiana, USASee All Blogs

Shilpi is part of the YUWA school in rural Jharkhand, where she both goes to school and plays football. In class, she is very energetic, and she likes to bring energy to everyone around her. Shilpi also likes to find the best and funny things in people in order to make them happy. She likes animals, especially her two dogs. For the Leadership Collective, she is excited to meet everyone and learn about their cultures, plus the cultures of the states in India she will visit.

Shilpi RaniRanchi, Jharkhand, IndiaSee All Blogs

Skyler is an active student from a small town in North Carolina. She plays five sports, including cross country and track. She also loves all different types of music, movies, and books. Skyler describes herself as someone who loves to joke around, laugh, and have a generally good time. She is looking forward to going on an adventure with everyone and making memories. Skyler also values that she will be getting out of the country and into India to learn.

Skyler McPhersonWilkesboro, North Carolina, USASee All Blogs

Stefani is a student in high school in Bulgaria. She has many interests, including writing, musicals, and Korean culture. She likes to write poetry and short stories with unexpected endings. Stefani also enjoys acting, and she is part of a theater troupe. She describes herself as a friendly person, though sometimes introverted. For the Leadership Collective, she is most excited to learn from everyone and share opinions about how they can make a change and a difference in their home countries.

Stefani AngelovaVarna, BulgariaSee All Blogs

Tahani goes to public high school in Lebanon. She likes to dance, meet new people, and spread happiness. She particularly likes hearing stories from people outside of Lebanon. Tahani is excited to explore India with the group on the Leadership Collective. She also will share her traditional culture with the group, including local dances.

Tahani El Hammoud Bar Elias, LebanonSee All Blogs