October 5, 2017

One of the many benefits of Youth Leadership Greater Washington is the opportunity for students to be eligible for awards that will further advance their leadership goals beyond high school.

During the Fall Kick Off, LGW dedicated time to acknowledge the achievements of two stellar YLGW students from the Class of 2017. Ada Mejia and Vanshika Vijayram were both honored as recipients of the Maxine R. Baker YLGW Scholarship, for their outstanding demonstration of leadership within their communities and schools.

The winner of a $500 scholarship award was Ada Mejia, a junior at Wheaton High School. Born in El Salvador, Ada came to the United States at age seven. The YLGW program has helped Ada overcome her shyness and fear of public speaking. With this new-found confidence, Ada has already started working on polishing her leadership skills by trying new activities.

“I decided to run to be the National Honors Society President at my school. Even though I was not elected, I was very proud of myself because I was able to stand in front of 68 students and inform them of my plans for the chapter. The fact that I was not elected does not stop me from trying to increase student’s involvement in their community or in school activities. I know that a leader does not have to be the focal point, they can also work from the sidelines to make a difference. A leader is a person people follow, but a great leader is a person inspiriting its followers.”

Ada, now understands taking the lead at school and in her community will benefit her as she pursues her dream of attending Yale University. 

The $1,000 scholarship was awarded high school sophomore Vanshika Vijayram. At Chantilly High School, Vanskia participates in extracurricular actives including Model UN and Congressional debate. She is also a part of her school’s yearbook club. 

“After my completion of the 6-month program, I emerged as more than just a well-developed leader. I grew into an individual that encompassed the fundamentals of being knowledgeable about mental health, actively incorporating inclusiveness in my daily life, learning how to make my mark and strike a change through social action, and delegating and working cooperatively in order to lead effectively. YLGW taught me how I could make a difference in this world and has inspired me to start my own nonprofit for underprivileged high school students in the DMV area to become more involved in opportunities available to them and to have a fair and successful career path. Leadership is a lifestyle; it’s what you do in every small action the steps you take to change the world and the morals and values you bring with you on the way.”

As a volunteer, at American Prosperity,  she works toward creating beneficial local legislation in Arlington and Northern Virginia. Vanishika’s experience in YLGW has motivated her to continue her work with youth and her neighboring communities.

Congratulations to Ada and Vanshika, we look forward to seeing what you both accomplish in the future. By engaging in leadership programming early on, YLGW participants are equipped to take on new pursuits and examine the region in a broader way. Thank you to Maxine B. Baker (’99) for giving students the opportunity to reach their full potential through education. Leadership Greater Washington is excited to continue the YLGW program for all students across the region.