During the National Charter Schools Week 2021: 30 Years Strong celebration, we honored 30 exceptional young leaders associated with charter schools who use their ideas, talents, and platforms to influence and affect positive change in their communities and nationwide.
These 30 individuals were honored with the 30 Under 30 Changemaker awards in Arts, Writing, and Sports; Education and Politics; Leadership; Science; and Social Justice.
In further recognition of the amazing work of the 30 Under 30 Changemakers, here are some words of wisdom and hopes from five of our esteemed changemakers in each award category:
“Life is short. You’ve got to make the most of it with integrity, kindness, and compassion for others. I want to lead by example and bring positive energy to whatever environment I’m in. I hope it invigorates those around me and encourages them to chase their passions and joys in life”
- Ayden Jent, 30 Under 30 Changemaker | Arts, Writing, and Sports
Ayden Jent embodies persistence and perseverance. At a young age, doctors diagnosed him with cerebral palsy and predicted he would never walk without assistance or play sports—but he did. Ayden joined the track and cross-country teams at Herron High School and even went on to join the U.S. Paralympic Team in 2016.
Today, Ayden is a three-time national team member of USA Track and Field and won a Silver Medal in the Toronto Para Pan Am games in the 100-meter in 2015. He has also competed in Berlin, Doha, London, and Rio.
“I have always aspired to be a lifelong learner. What better place to do that than in a school! I hope to continue to create joyful learning spaces, whether it is working with children or adults, as I grow throughout my career as an educator. And I hope to never stop learning too.”
- Audrey Hagopian, 30 Under 30 Changemaker | Leadership
Audrey Hagopian is the regional director of Primary Schools for BASIS.ed, a U.S. network of high-quality charter schools, recognized as a 30 Under 30 Changemaker in Leadership. As a former science teacher, Audrey's enthusiasm for science education hasn't waned. She finds joy in making science cool, fun, and pandemic-friendly by bringing hands-on experiments to YouTube through a partnership with the popular San Antonio Charter Moms blog.
“I want to continue my impact by planting seeds among the students within my community, because there is a Global Goal for everyone. If I can plant just one seed for them to make a positive impact, then I feel like I have done my job.”
- Adriana Mancini, 30 Under 30 Changemaker | Science
Adriana Mancini is the founder of Team Green Martin and Students 4H20 in Palm City, Florida. Her organizations encourage students to be a part of the solution to end the global recycling and water crisis. Adriana’s passion for sustainability and community outreach have helped raise over $100,000 to provide clean water and sanitation to developing countries.
“I hope the work I do will contribute to the liberation of Black and Brown students and families by dismantling systems of anti-Blackness and White supremacy and building a better future through transformative justice.”
- Noelani Gabriel, 30 Under 30 Changemaker | Social Justice
Noelani Gabriel’s commitment to social justice, civil rights, and active anti-racism has a significant positive impact on the community and students at her school. In her current role at Community Charter School of Cambridge in Massachusetts, she develops programs to foster collaboration between educators and families, cultivates relationships with community organizations, and leads equity and restorative justice work.
As a Black queer school leader, she seeks to ignite joy and elevate the voices of students and families in decision-making through her involvement in the Cambridge LGBTQ+ Commission, Kendall Square Association Board of Directors, and The Teachers’ Lounge MA.
“I hope to continue cultivating liberatory experiences, communities, and spaces for Black, Indigenous, and people of color founders to actualize their dreams.”
- Phillip Nguyen, 30 Under 30 Changemaker | Education and Politics
Phillip Nguyen dedicates his career to inspiring students and cultivating strong, diverse leaders. He is the founder and executive director of EdChiefs, an equity-driven consulting firm committed to diversifying the education space with executive leaders of color. Additionally, he is a senior director at BrainPOP and the founding New Jersey Impact Lead for ImmSchools. In his most recent project, The New Jersey Charter School Launch Program, he aims to support BIPOC leaders in launching tomorrow’s schools.
Our 30 Under 30 Changemakers inspire their students, staff, colleagues, and communities every day. With these words of wisdom, we look forward to seeing what else they will do to drive positive change.
Jasmine Guan is the 2021 summer communications intern at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and an alum of KIPP King Collegiate Charter School.
Learn more about the 30 Under 30 Changemakers.