Anna-Grace (Grey) Sellers is a 10th Grader at Westwood HS in Mesa, AZ. She is part of the Young ATHENA Club at Westwood that is in its second year, volunteers at Open Arms Care Center in Gilbert, AZ and is active in her church.
For Grey, one of the hardest lessons she learned in her life was learning how to not care what people thought about her. “I used to struggle a lot about caring about how people perceive me and the way that I acted. I am really different because I am super hyperactive on my ‘bad’ ADHD days. I had to learn that people are going to say what they are going to say and I can’t help it. And so I don’t have to listen to them. It’s just how my brain works and they have to take responsibility for their own reactions.”
As her most authentic self, Grey explains to her friends that she couldn’t do certain things. “Learning isn’t easy for me. I have to really work to understand. A lot of my friends are really smart. They would tell me ‘this is very easy, why don’t you understand?’ I would answer them that my brain doesn’t focus naturally and works differently. I’m naturally super hyperactive so please don’t jump to the conclusion that everything is easy because it is not. This direct approach has really helped grow stronger friendships.”
Grey’s strongest relationship is with her older sisters. “We are very similar but we’re also very different. It is really fun to watch each of us grow and make fun of ourselves and each other. If one gets hurt, we all show up and care for them because that is what sisters do. My older sister speaks Spanish and that’s how I will continue to practice with her because I have to talk to her in Spanish.
Chloe Kwa is an 11th Grader at Phoenix Country Day School in Paradise Valley, AZ. “I am from Singapore and because of my father’s job, I have lived and thrived in four different countries before I was 16 years old”. I am always looking forward to my next adventure. An avid musician and member of her school’s Strings Orchestra, Chloe also serves as Board Member – Marketing, for Women’s Orchestra of Arizona.
Chloe mentions that she lives by the principle of acting courageously. “In challenging moments, I demonstrate grit, tenacity, and boldness by standing up for what I believe in. In a Juilliard summer camp, I stood up for fellow student musicians who were isolated by their peers. My approach to life is to live it with openness and fearlessness.” Other experiences included where she needed to acting courageously for herself. “People were being mean to me, at first I was with one group of ‘friends’ that were not really good friends and were putting me down. I talked with my Mom and then found a group of real friends that supported me and valued me for me. I learned to speak up for myself and I found my voice.”
For Chloe one of the hardest lessons she learned was since she moved around a lot, “I started to slack off from my school work in high school and now that I want to enter a specific University, I learned that it has to be through a lot of work and effort. I am doing everything to pull my grades up and see that I go where I want to be.”
Chloe describes her strongest relationship she has in her life is her mom. “She has been there for me and supported me in my life always encouraging me and motivating me to never give up. I love her and she made me want to be stronger. One of the things that I have learned in life is to ‘Treat others how you would like them to treat yourself’. It has been a journey.”
Tania Ramos is from Guadalajara, Mexico and now she is an 11th Grader at HS in Maryvale Phoenix, AZ, where she is the Junior Class President and a member of the National Honor Society. Tania is an active leader and change agent in her community, volunteering at several organizations including Trees Matter and Bloom365. “As a trainee for a nonprofit organization called Bloom 365. We work to prevent interpersonal violence in teen dating relationships and advocate for that and just learn more leadership and advocating skills. I love to do peer advocating and now see how I can use the ATHENA Program in this work.”
If given the opportunity, Tania says she would like to change how people view themselves or self-image. “This is important to me because I believe change starts within myself. In order for that to happen, you have to set the bar high of how you see and view yourself, your body image and self-image. In general it is just how you set your goals and what you want to achieve is super important for people. This helps people build better relationships and a stronger community.”
Tania describes one of the hardest lessons is to never give up. “I had a lot of medical problems and so learning to cope with that for three years was difficult. Now I try to think of it as not affecting me but it was still hard to learn to overcome. If I hadn’t been through that, I would not be where I am today”.
Once she got into high school, Tania felt that she became her authentic self because it was a fresh new start. “I didn’t know anyone at my high school so I felt that I could focus on myself and learn a lot more. Being able to do things I never imagined and have a fresh new start was great.”
Paying it forward is important to her because “In order to get more out of it and receive more, you have to give first. It helps me grow more as a person, learn more and stay humble. I’m getting to know a lot of people along the way and learning new things. I have a quote that I like that it’s in Spanish, “Más vale sólo que mal acompañado”. You’re not always going to be surrounded by people that match your same energy or always have that one thing that makes you happy so in order to be able to succeed and learn sometimes you have to learn to be on your own and step up for yourself.”
Alondra Macías is 15 years old, is a 10th Grader at Westwood HS in Mesa, AZ. Alondra is a member of the Westwood Young ATHENA Club, the National Honor Society, and she also volunteers for several schools and community organizations. “ I’m kind of shy and timid introvert but as soon as you get to know me I come out a lot. That is one reason I think I am being recognized for the Learns Constantly Leadership Principle. I am always learning from my mistakes and successes.
What Alondra would like to change if she had the opportunity would be how others view minorities. People tend to view minorities such as African-Americans or Hispanics as poor people or people that are bad. We are all just humans and we don’t have to downgrade each other like that. I would advocate for this cause to understand it more and learn how I could speak more effectively.”
For Alondra, one of the hardest lessons to learn has had to learn is that upon reaching high school she realized that she was with a lot of smart people and I was not at the top of the class like she used to be. ”I would think that I am not going to get anywhere in life with ‘these’ people. But I’ve learned that it’s not just education; it’s more about how you show yourself and just the type of person you are that’s really important in this world. That’s why I think it is important to not downgrade yourself ever. Grow from whatever mistakes you make. Always be hopeful about what there is to gain.”
Deeann Schettrer is an 11th Grader at Westwood Highschool in Mesa, AZ. Deeann is a member of the Westwood Young ATHENA Club and National Honor Society. Deeann volunteers at Banner Baywood Medical Center and Helping Hand for Relief and Development of Arizona.
When asked what advocacy means, she said: “Advocating means stepping up in the issues that you are very passionate about and want to change with a collection of people that share the same values. I did that by participating in my school at a club and I am the Treasurer of ‘Bring Change to Mind’ and we advocate to end the stigma surrounding Mental Health. We do that by having ‘Weeks-by-Will’ where we pass out bullying prevention stickers or wear suicide prevention bracelets. There are different themes each week.
“One of the biggest lessons I have learned is speaking up for myself and using my voice. I grew up as a very shy person and many ideas that I had I didn’t share them because I didn’t know how to. I also just like to fall under authority figures and learn from them instead of trying to have others learn from me. I just wanted to stay on the sidelines. But I just learned that I can contribute as long as I feel I have a voice.”
Deeann was asked to describe her strongest relationship is with “my religious studies teacher, I have a really close relationship with her. I’ve learned so much about her because I’m learning from her life and how it is so different in so many ways and I just love her and how she teaches and everything”.