What is a Rising Star?

Ambition and Creativity are the cornerstones of my experience as a rising star.  Hard work, mentorship, education and experience are what led to my personal success. I have spent countless hours with distinguished leaders at every age learning about their path to success and uncovering the resources, support and experiences they believe were most critical along the way.  I matched this insight to the feedback I received from teens, college students and young professionals who were seeking success and ready to do what it takes to make it happen for themselves.  Through my research, I continue to meet today’s Rising Stars, influential millennial leaders who are trendsetters to their peers and role models for every age. We want to shine a light on their talents and highlight their impact.

Talents
  • Confident
  • Aspire to make a difference
  • Trendsetter

MEET SOME RISING STARS

 

If you or someone you know is a Millennial making a difference in their community or career, please share their story.  Email whymillennialsmatter@gmail.com

 

Brianna Mercado

Brianna Mercado

Art & Health

Performing Artist & Motivational Speaker

Brianna Mercado is a professional dancer and teacher living in New York City. Her journey is a study in contrasts, a life of serious news and playful innocence, knock-downs and get-back-ups, the deepest challenges and the greatest rewards. From surviving cancer twice, to graduating with two college degrees from UC Berkeley, from pulling up California roots for the move to the Big Apple, to tirelessly working to give very ill children reasons to live and fight on—as a counselor at a camp for kids with cancer, a volunteer with organizations designed to give terminally ill youth reasons to love their life if only for this moment, and as an organizer of numerous fundraisers for cancer study, treatment, and prevention—Brianna lives by her own credo as she lifts the spirit of the world: Go big, regardless. She embodies her belief that inside every impossible situation there is an opportunity to be great, and no real reason to wait. If there is more to learn, someone to love, something to give, and things to do, then do them, now.
Public Speaking
Social Media
Teaching

Vivian Peng

Vivian Peng

Public Health

Freelance web & graphic designer at Medecins Sans Frontieres. Masters of Public Health candidate at Columbia University. Coffee, dance, & animated .gifs enthusiast.

Vivian is an MPH candidate at Columbia University, and freelance web & graphic designer based in NY. She desires to use art as a medium to raise awareness for public health issues, breach cultural boundaries, and invite discussion on taboo subjects.

Vivian is also the co-founder of Big or Bigger,  an organization dedicated to connect you with ways to make a difference doing what you love.

Research
Adobe Creative Design Suite
Web & Graphic Design
Video Editing
Blogging

Flo Lee

Flo Lee

Public Health & Health Communications

Epidemiologist & information designer

Flo Lee is an epidemiologist interested in information design and dissemination. She analyzes and visualizes data to give people the tools to build healthier communities. Since 2015, Flo has been working at the National Center for Health Statistics, analyzing and writing about domestic health trends for Health, United States. She has also been the project and creative lead on visualization projects, including the Health, United States Spotlight infographic series. In her free time, Flo works as a freelance graphic and information designer. She has produced design pieces for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, Doctors Without Borders, the Clinton Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation, and the2x2project. For more information about Flo and her work, stop by her personal website.
Graphic design
Epidemiology
Adobe Creative Suite
Health communications


Samantha Cooper

Samantha Cooper

Founder, SCOOP

Samantha Rae Cooper empowers young women to be the best versions of themselves in everything from their career to their personal style.  Often described as the Carrie Bradshaw of Gen Y, Samantha has a first hand understanding of the challenges and opportunities young women encounter today and provides mentorship and advice in a way that is fun, edgy, and non-traditional.  Samantha's mission is to help young women gain the confidence they need to achieve their dreams.  Learn more here and here Samantha's first-hand experience comes from her roles as Campus Relations Manager at NYC fashion/tech start-up Chloe + Isabel and as the LocalLEVO NYC leader at Levo League. The Scoop was inspired by the young women she's encountered in these roles and everything she's learned - and continuing to learn - along the way.
Career Mentor

Rayshawn Whitford

Rayshawn Whitford

Global Impact

As a student leader at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Rayshawn Whitford stood out for his professionalism and passion for learning more about value-based leadership. His goals included working abroad after graduation and pursuing a career where he could use his creativity to inspire others and have a global impact.

Rayshawn was offered a tremendous opportunity post-graduation to become the Country-Director for Babson’s Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center. His responsibilities included organizing Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and preparing grant pro- posals for a teacher training program. In 2011, the week consisted of 26 events hosted by 22 partners and drew 12,000 participants. The goal for 2012 was 49 events hosted by 42 partners and double the participation of 2011.  The impact report for 2012 highlights that the goals were reached with 50 events hosted by 42 partners. This gives Rwanda—East Africa’s smallest country—the largest campaign in the region in terms of partners and events held, two of GEW Global’s three major monitoring metrics. Rayshawn has grown his network beyond Rwanda to include leaders across East Africa and has spent time teaching in Uganda at Babson’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy. The Root, an online newspaper published by The Slate Group (a division of the Washington Post Company), named Rayshawn to the 2013 Young Futurist List, an honor bestowed on the year’s best and brightest black innovators ages 16 to 22.
Grant Proposal Writing
Teaching
Leadership


Luke Ownings

Luke Ownings

Coach

Luke Owings is currently the Head Coach at the Fullbridge Program with the respon- sibility of playing coach to the coaches.

Based in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA), the Fullbridge Program is a four-week intensive and transformative curriculum that pre- pares highly motivated undergraduates and recent graduates from all fields of study for a successful transition to the working world. It’s the ideal boot camp for First Global graduates who are committed to developing core qualities that will help them excel and navigate their career across all sectors. (We will share more about the Fullbridge Program and other scalable training models in Part 2 of this book.) As Head Coach, Luke recruits passionate professionals with credible experience and an appreciation for the difference they can make in a student’s life. Luke’s path to Fullbridge began as an athlete and community leader during his undergraduate years at Princeton, followed by two years working for McKinsey & Co. at locations around the world. After McKinsey, Luke was accepted into Harvard Business School, where he also taught Intro to Economics to Harvard undergraduates. His story and path align well with our thoughts on growing up global and the changing workplace. Luke traveled around the world during college with his older brother and as an associate with McKinsey, which sparked his desire to pursue work that would impact young people around the globe.
Coaching
Business Management
Teaching


Denise Chan

Denise Chan

Social Good

Community Manager at Catchafire. Dancing Queen. Life enthusiast.

After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2011, Denise picked up and moved to NYC. With experience in politics, museum curation, journalism, and planning a national hip-hop dance competition under her belt, she entered the big city with a furious desire to learn and a passion for adventure. She didn't know what she wanted to do, but knew she belonged somewhere in the intersection of digital media and social good. With perseverance and the support of amazing mentors, Denise is now a Community Manager at Catchafire where she spends every day matching social good organizations to ambitious millennials wanting to give back their skills for good.
Leadership
Event Planning
Digital Media
Community Development
Journalism


Theo Patrick Ntawiheba

Theo Patrick Ntawiheba

Education

Theo was born in Rwanda just a year before the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of his parents as well as most of his siblings and relatives. He was taken to a refugee camp in Tanzania and later to Kenya where he started attending school in the refugee camp.  Education changed Theo's life path....When Theo sat for the national primary school level exam, he was the top student and earned a full scholarship to Brookhouse International School in Nairobi then later to NYU Abu Dhabi. Theo was inspired by his own life journey to start a non-profit organization, Nuru. Nuru's mission is to help students in Kakuma Refugee Camp be able to access secondary school education. Every year hundreds of refugee students are unable to attend secondary school due to the lack of financial resources.  Theo's organization seeks sponsorships from individuals and corporates, which is then used to cover the fees for secondary education for the students in the camp. Plans are also underway to construct a community center in the camp. This center will have a library, a computer and a literature resource center to help women in the camp with basic IT training as well as reading material. This will provide them with not only the knowledge they lack but also the required skills that will help them start income generating activities and they can be able to support themselves and their families. This is a project that Theo is planning to do with the collaboration of Microsoft Africa, NYU Abu Dhabi and Habitat for Humanity.    
Leadership
Social Change Agent


Emmelie de la Cruz

Emmelie De La Cruz

Founder, The Branding Muse

Emmelie De La Cruz, Founder of The Branding Muse, is the go-to expert for college students and young professionals who want to take control of their personal brand. Through herpersonal branding class, she effectively helps millennials position themselves for success in the job market to increase their credibility in their respective industries. With a degree in Public Relations from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School, she has worked with various companies and indivduals over a variety of industries, including nutrition, technology, healthcare, fashion, business and B2B marketing. Emmelie is a millennial thought leader on personal branding and reputation management. She is working on finalizing her first book and hopes to get her Master's in career counseling. Get the full scoop on her LinkedIn ProfileConnect with her on Google+ or follow her on Twitter: @Hermusings
Personal Branding
Online reputation management
Social Media


Taryn Davis

Taryn Davis

Founder, American Widow Project

When she was just 21, Taryn Davis received devastating news: Her husband, CPL Michael Davis, had been killed in Baghdad, Iraq. While her family provided all the support they could, she still felt lost and alone. When her Google search for “widow” turned up the result: “Did you mean window?” she knew she had to take action. Taryn created the American Widow Project to provide vital resources to our Nation's Military Widows and Widowers. To date, the Project has served over 1500 widows using peer-to-peer empowerment and educational based retreats, virtual tools and more to unify these unsung heroes and survivors on the home front.
Non-Profit Leadership


Vanessa Thompson

Vanessa Thompson

Education

Teenage Entrepreneur

Vanessa's learning disability made even simple math concepts confusing and difficult until she and her mother created a new method- solving problems by turning them into stories with numbers as the characters. The new system that they created catapulted Vanessa to higher levels in math, and it has become a reputable educational social platform for K-12. She was the first person in her age appointed to the National Collegiate Entrepreneurship Honor Society, received a UC Congressional Special Commendation from Representatives George Miller and John Garamendi, and was awarded a California State Senate Certificate of Recognition for STEM. Click here to learn more about Story Book Math!
Education
Teaching
Leadership


Alexandra Garey

Alexandra Garey

Graphic Design

Passionate Product Developer

Alexandra Garey started off sending ideas to a family friend who owned an agency business and consumer products/marketing company in New York City. From there she has worked with multiple companies to create consumer products and graphic designs. Alexandra has two products that are waiting to go into production in China and is excited for her newest opportunity, a tool to help people with low motor skills. The tool is 3D prototyped and is currently being tested in schools in New Jersey. The product was originally inspired by children with autism, and Alexandra has taken the steps to have this community involved in product development. This is just the beginning for Alexandra as she hopes to develop more products that are multi-functional and have a social mission.
Product Development
Graphic Design