TOP 10 INSPIRATIONAL YOUTH FIGURES
By: Sherly J. Victor
In a person’s lifetime, they have multiple inspirations. Especially the young people have a lot of inspirational youth figures. These people might have done big deeds to even small things to move the hearts of young people and make a place for themselves in their lives.
It was Maya Angelou, who once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And so sometimes we meet these certain people in our lives who change things. They make us feel a certain way that just ignites something within us to take a step up and move mountains. Here are the top 10 inspirational youth figures according to us –
The first entry in our list of Inspirational youth figures is Malala Yousafzai. Everyone knows who is Malala and everything about her life. From being an education activist for girls in Pakistan to the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala has come a long way. She says, “I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls”.
From being the girl who was shot by the Taliban to a proud Oxford University graduate, she has grown into a more passionate young woman. She does not seem to stray from her goal. She says, “With more than 130 million girls out of school today, there is more work to be done. I hope you will join my fight for education and equality. Together, we can create a world where all girls can learn and lead.”
The most rightful people in our list of inspirational youth figures are the famous South Korean band BTS aka Bangtan boys. Their journey has been quite remarkable and every now and then the boys have proved their worth. Not just as talented musicians, but the group has always put their best foot forward as philanthropists.
In 2017, BTS partnered with UNICEF to end violence against children and launched their campaign, ‘Love Myself.’ Their message being, “Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s me, too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I was, who I am, and who I hope to become.”
The boys have led a remarkable career and have often been vocal about issues relating to racial injustice, environment and climate change and have donated towards various causes. Their songs have always portrayed issues that youth face at various stages of their lives.
“What we promised were two things: We have to talk about what’s really inside us, and we want to be helpful to the world… to say and speak and show something that this world needs,” RM, the leader said. “Life is supposed to be very ironic and unstable, and in teenage years and in our twenties, it’s more and more. We doubt ourselves, sometimes we wanna live, sometimes we wanna die, and it changes day to day — even hour by hour.”
Koneru Humpy is no stranger to the world of chess and chess enthusiasts. Therefore, it is a must that she makes an entry into our list of Inspirational youth figures. In 2002, she became the youngest woman ever to achieve the ‘Grandmaster’ title, at the small age of 15.
Even after taking a two-year hiatus, she is back at the game and has since hit upon some major wins. The hiatus and motherhood, has changed her perspective. According to Koneru in an interview with ESPN India, “It’s changed my outlook toward what I want out of tournaments,” she said. “Earlier I’d be all worked up from day one, obsessing about winning any event I went to. Now I don’t even check the standings until perhaps the penultimate round. I don’t stress myself out and can enjoy my game a lot more.”
Humpy started playing chess at the age of 6 and ever since she stepped into the world of chess, she has been at the top. She is one of those players who have continued to evolve herself with time.
Our next entry in the inspirational youth figures is the CEO of Hatch Apps, Param Jaggi. Backed by Morgan Stanley, Revolution, Y Combinator and more, they help businesses find, build and manage their software.
As a 19-year-old, Jaggi became the founder of Ecoviate, a research and development company focusing on disposable green technologies. He invented the algae mobile, which converts carbon dioxide which is emitted from cars into oxygen.
Jaggi’s philosophy in life is, “I have zero tolerance for mediocracy. I surround myself with people who are innately curious, think clearly, and continuously improve themselves. My friends and colleagues have ambitions above what seems possible to others.”
“I am not always happy seeing children out of school; it is a signpost to poverty and bleak future. We need involvement of first Ladies, mothers, School owners and all change-agents to ensure that the girl-child is allowed to have quality education and acquire skills that would make her a wholesome person to herself and the nation at large,” says the Nigerian-American prodigy.
What started with a documentary-making competition has changed Zuriel’s life into being the youngest filmmaker in the world. Her goal; to bring a more authentic narrative of Africa and that it gets proper representation.
Apart from her documentary work, she is a major education advocate for girls. Even though, Zuriel was born and brought up in LA. She has not forgotten her African roots and continues to hustle for her people back home.
Nick Vujicic is an Australian-American born with a rare disorder called phocomelia. He was born without limbs and no one is a stranger to the inspirational life he has been leading. Thus, this list of Inspirational youth figures will be incomplete without him.
He is a great example of self-acceptance. Born with a rare condition as his, imagine being a motivational speaker. His life has been as difficult as it can get. But he decided to count on the blessings in his life, like his amazing parents and his skills.
Nick is an anti-bullying advocate, having faced bullying in school. He has been a ray of hope to many people through his words and his organisation, ‘Life without limbs.’ He writes in his book, ‘Life without limits,’ “I have the choice to be angry at God for what I don’t have, or be thankful for what I do have.”
Our next person on the list of inspirational youth figures is the amazing Jessica Cox. If you do not know her then you can come out of the rock you are living under. She is the first armless pilot in aviation history.
She is often described as a motivational speaker ‘no one will forget.’ “I show audiences around the globe how to inspire enthusiasm and build authentic confidence. With the goal of showing people how to go home from work every day feeling excited for tomorrow, I teach how to courageously tackle new challenges with creativity and unrelenting drive”.
As a result of a rare birth defect, she was born armless. But the lack of arms has never stopped Jessica to reach for the skies. She can drive, play the piano, is a black belt in Taekwondo and has achieved more than an average person can achieve in their lifetime.
“I set out a goal when I was 8 years old that I would one day be on YouTube and television spreading my message of Bullying No Way!” And after years, Jaylen continues to follow his path to achieve the goals he set for himself. Jaylen suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome (TS – a Neurological Disorder), Asperger’s Syndrome (ASP – a broad spectrum autism disorder), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, since the age of three, eight and four, respectively.
When he was bullied for being different, he chose the high road and that is the reason, he is part of inspirational youth figures. He wanted to teach his bullies about mutual understanding and respect. It is a miracle to see how one boy with so many complexes in life, can bring a change in the lives of so many others.
He is also the recipient of The Princess Diana legacy award. “Receiving the Princess Diana Legacy Award as the only American recipient was not only surreal, but it was pretty intimidating,” said Jaylen. “I was extremely honoured that they even recognized a simple high schooler like me, especially out of the thousands of applicants. I felt the expectation to continue to do the absolute best that I can with this foundation by using the platform the award gave me in order to reach as many students as possible.”
Many of you might know her as Hermoine from the Harry Potter movie franchise. The quick-witted, clever and intelligent Hermione is much more than that in real life. She is a rightful person to be among the world’s most inspirational youth figures.
Emma is also a huge eco-friendly and ethical fashion, enthusiast. In 2014, she was appointed as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Her campaign, HeforShe is unique, just like her. It calls out men to advocate for gender equality.
“But there’s a willingness now to be like, ‘Fine. Call me a ‘diva,’ call me a feminazi,’ call me ‘difficult,’ call me a “First World feminist,’ call me whatever you want; it’s not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens.’ Because it doesn’t just affect me, it affects all the other women who are in this with me, and it affects all the other men who are in this with me, too,” she said in her interview with Esquire.
If there ever were a list to be curated about the most powerful of Silicon Valley, Sundar Pichai has to be on the list. Sundar Pichai’s story and his meteoric rise make him the last person on our list of Inspirational youth figures.
From the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu to the CEO of Google, Pichai has proved that even the sky is not the limit. Pichai has been a major asset to Google and has led the company to new heights. He believes that it is best to, “Be impatient. It will create the progress the world needs.”
Despite the fame, he leads a modest life and keeps motivating students to give a chance to their dreams. “A lot of times, when I was younger, people used to say, this person didn’t get into this college or something. But life is so different from that and so I think it is important to keep your hopes, keep your dreams and try to follow them. And I think most of how life plays out is up to you, and not up to what happens outside of you. I think it’s important to keep that in mind and take the long-term view,” said Pichai, once in his speech.
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