All too often in education policy, the voices of students—the next generation of leaders—are drowned out by special interests. The 10 charter high school students selected as the inaugural class of Rising Leaders who want to improve education policy that directly affects them and their classmates.
Meet the Rising Leaders Class 2022-2023:
Senior at Palmetto Scholars Academy in South Carolina
A true advocate for equal education opportunities, Alayna Crafton, is an incoming senior at Palmetto Scholars Academy in North Charles, SC. Her leadership abilities are highlighted by the rigorous activities she is involved in, including Beta Club, National Honors Society, and Charleston Jewish Federation. Alayna has also interned for Joe Cunningham, a former United States Representative, and participated as a research assistant and analyst for his office. In addition, Alayna is passionate about gender equality, prison reform, and fighting antisemitism against the Jewish community. The Rising Leaders Initiative is honored to have the compassion and knowledge that Alayna brings to the team.
Junior at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School in New Mexico
Daniyal Hussain, an incoming junior at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School in Albuquerque, NM, knows first-hand what it means to experience poor quality education. Before moving to Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School, Daniyal lacked the quality resources and knowledge that many of his peers were getting in different elementary schools. His transition to high school came with struggle but has led Daniyal to become an exceptional student. He is currently a member of the Make a Wish committee, volunteers at his local library, hospital, and food bank, and is a very active athlete in his track and swim teams. He hopes to become a doctor one day.
Senior at Canton Preparatory High School in Michigan
Passionate about mental health and education policy, Dayanna Vann will be attending her senior year at Canton Preparatory High School in Canton, MI. Dayanna’s journey in overcoming adversity has led her to the National Honors Society and Key Club, where she holds the editor position. She hopes to fight for change in mental health awareness among charter schools and aspires to get a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology one day. As her teachers have described her, Dayanna never fails to put forth a strong effort in helping others succeed. Her compassion and perseverance make her an excellent addition to the Rising Leaders cohort.
Senior at Valor College Prep in Tennessee
Dylan Conard is a passionate mental health and climate advocate who will be entering his senior year at Valor College Prep in Nashville, TN. He strongly believes in pushing for a better sense of community and has done so through various acts of service. Dylan has put in hundreds of hours as a tutor, is a member of the Asian Student Union and UNICEF clubs at his school, and has attended multiple Youth in Government conferences. His teachers describe him as beyond exceptional and a hard worker who doesn’t settle for anything less. With the high recommendations of his educators, Dylan is sure to exemplify the mission of the Rising Leaders Initiative.
Junior at Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.
An incoming junior at Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington D.C., Dylan Park is a passionate mental health and education advocate. His ability to communicate and connect with diverse groups of people has led to many of his teachers highlighting his skills as a natural leader. Dylan understands the value of equal education opportunities for students of all backgrounds. He serves on the D.C. Youth Advisory Committee and works as an Outreach Officer for the nonprofit Washingtutors. Aside from his ability to advocate for his peers and their success, Dylan is an aspiring composer who loves piano, musicals, and choir. His creativity is sure to advance the mission of the Rising Leaders Initiative.
Sophomore at Mater Academy Charter Middle and High School in Florida
Isabella Paez’s achievements are impressive as she enters her sophomore year at Mater Academy Charter Middle and High School in Hialeah Gardens, FL. Isabella is a competing member of Future Business Leaders of America, an officer at her school’s social justice club, a member of Student Government and Model United Nations, and has been accepted into Brown’s Pre-College Program as a freshman with a Sibley Scholarship. Aside from excelling in school, Isabella spends her time passionately helping the community through service. She advocates for many issues, including climate change and women’s rights.
Junior at Riverhead Charter School in New York
Jah’mere Jackson is a focused and driven student entering his junior year at Riverhead Charter School in Calverton, NY. Jah’mere’s motivation to provide his peers with programs and activities to build their confidence makes it easy to identify his selfless nature. Aside from his work in school, which includes being captain of the volleyball team and assistant director for Riverhead’s elementary theater program, Jah’mere’s work in his community is extensive. From organizing toy drives with the nonprofit Birthday Wishes to helping gather resources for families facing food insecurity, it’s no wonder his teachers describe him as the perfect addition to the Rising Leaders Initiative.
Senior at Benjamin Franklin High School in Louisiana
A stand-out student, Lauren Ejiaga is entering her senior year at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, LA. Passionate about environmental justice and educational equality, Lauren seeks to fight for the representation of all. She hopes to advocate for the presence of Black women in STEM, leading by example as the winner of the prestigious DoD STEM Talent Award for STEM excellence, team leadership, and promise of the Broadcom MASTERS competition. Lauren’s teachers describe her as remarkable, determined, successful, and compassionate. Her extraordinary presence is sure to be felt within the Rising Leaders cohort.
Junior at BASIS Scottsdale in Arizona
Naimisha Chakravadhanula already has an impressive resume as she enters her junior year at BASIS Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ. Her passion for law and an unwavering eagerness to help others has led her to the role of Public Relations Officer for BASIS Scottsdale’s UNICEF club. Her work in Project Citizen enriches her aspirations as an educational advocate, and her participation in Model United Nations has pushed her to be the creative and driven leader she is today. Naimisha’s teachers describe her as an open-minded leader, and the Rising Leaders Initiative is proud to work with Naimisha as she amplifies the voices of future generations.
Senior at Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas in Nevada
Stephanie Robinson has already been heavily involved in leadership programs as she enters her senior year at Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas in Henderson, NV. Stephanie acts as Vice President for her school’s Key Club, an organization dedicated to group community service opportunities. She is also involved in Genius Camp, a program designed to prepare future leaders, and started her Falcon Compass club, which provides resources such as scholarships and workshops for her peers. Her teachers describe her as a natural-born leader and the perfect fit for the Rising Leaders Initiative.
The Rising Leaders Initiative is a one-year program that will offer 1:1 training with experts in civic participation, education advocacy, leadership development, and public speaking. Learn more about the program.