2018 JCI TOYP Honorees
Along with the final judging panel, JCI members and active citizens around the world voted online to select the 2018 JCI TOYP Honorees. After nearly 24,500 votes were cast and the judging panel reviewed the top 20 finalists, ten young active citizens have been selected to receive this honor for exceptional service, creativity and the positive change they have created in their communities and the world.
Dr. Dima Al-Naeb
Academic Leadership and/or Accomplishment
As the only female student in her Ph.D. General Surgery program, Dr. Dima Al-Naeb worked extra hard to demonstrate her capacity to fellow students and professors, taking advanced learning programs while also completing up to 15 surgeries each day. During her studies, she realized that her home region of the Middle East and North Africa, like other developing countries, lacks medical attention beyond a cure, not considering the patients’ comfort.
When the Syrian War broke out in 2011, Dr. Al-Naeb’s workload grew as the number of doctors decreased and war injuries increased, but she never forgot her drive to improving the patients’ quality of life and care, not only saving them. In Aleppo, then considered the most dangerous city in the world, without stable internet, no access to educational references, and trauma affecting everyone around her from patients to friends and family, she continued to pursue and obtain her Ph.D. at Aleppo University Hospital. Her persistence led her to becoming the first female Syrian citizen to obtain a PhD in General Surgery on quality of life.
Dr. Al-Naeb uses her expertise as doctor to saves lives and serves as a humanitarian who supports the medical needs of those suffering from the war in her community and country as a Public Health Associate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Dr. Al-Naeb’s dedication to the patient’s experience has proved to be an asset during the war, allowing her to remain focused on care while working under immense pressure during the crisis.
Scientific and/or Technological Development
Cornel Amariei was born into a family who managed several personal handicaps, forcing them to use creativity and innovation in everyday life. A bright mind from a very young age, Amariei began programming at 7 years old and earned his first medal in an international robotics competition by the time he was 14.
Once Amariei reached secondary school, he was already working on many innovative projects and cultivating communities for other adolescents interested in engineering and robotics throughout Romania. In university, Amariei fostered his creativity alongside computer science and engineering studies by playing music, writing a book and running his companies. He developed one of his main achievements during his second year at university—an invention described as glasses for the blind. lumen is a blind-assisting system that helps the visually impaired to navigate. Combining 3D sensors and advanced electric skin impulse devices, the system maps the environment in front of its user and informs the brain through electrical impulses. Testing proved the device useful indoors for the visually impaired, and further development of the 3D sensors is continuing to enable the device to also be useful outdoors.
Always combining his scientific knowledge and creativity, Amariei continued to work on e-mobility projects and other inventions before founding an innovation group. Within 18 months, the group gained international recognition and had applied for over 30 patents. Inspired by his parents and driven by his belief that innovation projects will be the vehicle of the future, Amariei continues to develop inventions that enhance mobility of people with disabilities, allowing them to access a full life with fewer obstacles.
Contribution to Children, World Peace, and/or Human Rights
Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world, many of whom either come from Mongolia or are sent to Mongolia and forced to work. While the Mongolian government does not meet the minimum standards to eliminate trafficking, this issue directly affects people of all kinds across the country.
It was upon meeting a man whose only daughter was a victim of human trafficking that led Ganjavkhlan Chadraabal to dedicate himself to ending human trafficking, which has been considered a silent cancer in Mongolia. First serving as a volunteer at the national center against violence, he soon began organizing grassroots projects, utilizing social media and grabbing the attention of traditional news outlets to bring about awareness and effect change. In 2013, Chadraabal launched the NGO Lantuun Dohio to fight against human trafficking and child abuse.
Recognizing that the fight against human trafficking was disproportionately led by women, Lantuun Dohio ignited the 100 Guys Against Human Trafficking campaign to engage and inspire men to act against human trafficking. To provide a longer-term solution, Chadraabal opened Magic Mongolia to be a safe haven for vulnerable children in need of protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation, giving them shelter and professional support.
Since its founding, Lantuun Dohio has conducted over 30 projects of various scales to prevent crime and combat human trafficking in Mongolia. Chadraabal has not only raised awareness about this pervasive yet silent issue but also saved the lives of vulnerable children who may have fallen victim to human trafficking.
Richard Javad Heydarian
Political, Legal, and/or Governmental Affairs
In an increasingly interconnected world, geopolitics can be complicated and national issues can be difficult for the public to understand. The Philippines is no exception, where change can be perceived as negative, leadership can be influenced by corruption and regional disputes are complex. Richard Javad Heydarian has used his writing skills to address the growing need for the public to understand the changing landscape of political thinking.
As a leading global expert on security issues across Asia, it has been said that, “Heydarian has few peers when it comes to bringing us to an understanding of… the most geopolitically dynamic part of the globe.” Along with writing renowned publications including How Capitalism Failed the Arab World and most recently The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy, Heydarian serves as a non-partisan policy advisor and socially-engaged scholar to explore the most pressing political and socio-economic challenges of our time. As an academic and global affairs expert, he has authored close to 1000 articles and is regularly interviewed by leading media outlets such as BBC, Bloomberg and CNBC. Through these regular media appearances, he regularly uses his platform to create an informed citizenry and raise consciousness about key challenges facing the Philippines and the broader region with constructive dialogue on how to move forward.
With each article, publication and appearance, Heydarian serves to achieve his broader mission of inspiring a new generation of leaders to push the boundaries of positive and lasting change for a better Philippines and a better world.
Dr. Kamal Lamichhane
Academic Leadership and/or Accomplishment
Education and economic empowerment are at the forefront of sustainable development, however persons with disabilities are not often considered in solutions. Dr. Kamal Lamichhane experienced this first hand, having been born with visual impairments and deprived of receiving an education until the age of 12.
Once able to attend school, Dr. Lamichhane realized his teachers and peers had not faced such obstacles, and his community needed to better understand social welfare and the rights of people with disabilities, which he has carried with him ever since. As a university student, he had the opportunity to participate in a competitive training program in Japan, revealing to him the country’s disability-friendly infrastructure. His captivation by the great divide between the access he found in Nepal versus Japan encouraged him to delve deeper into the intersection of disability studies, education and economic empowerment, ultimately becoming the first blind person in Nepal to obtain a doctorate degree.
He has since continued to work in the academic field, using his personal experience and a vast array of empirical works to invalidate myths and assumptions about persons with disabilities, encouraging investment into disability issues. As an associate professor at the University of Tsukuba, Dr. Lamichhane currently works toward educational development that is inclusive of people with disabilities across all levels of education. He also served as an expert in important meetings that drafted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the main aim of ensuring disability was including in the SDGs.
Dr. Lamichhane’s brings to light how the world can foster social inclusion and ensure disabled people are actively involved in education, economies and global sustainable development.
Dr. Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil
Academic Leadership and/or Accomplishment
As a young girl, Dr. Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil was inspired by how the stars light the night sky and dreamt of becoming a scientist who could uncover the mysteries of the universe. Dr. Mutlu-Pakdil faced obstacles as a first-generation university graduate and Muslim woman, she was driven by her passion to become an astrophysicist.
As a Ph.D. student, Dr. Mutlu-Pakdil focuses on super-massive black holes and peculiar ringed galaxies. Her research has led to discovering an extremely rare galaxy with a unique circular structure, which is now commonly referred to as Burçin’s Galaxy. Her work has provided the first description of a double ringed elliptical galaxy that challenges current theories and assumptions about how the universe works and how galaxies start and evolve. Her dedicated research and thirst to uncover the deepest mysteries of the galaxy combines theory and modeling to develop a comprehensive picture of the formation, evolution, and present-day characteristics of galaxies. Her investigation into dwarf-like galaxies has given insight into the larger structure of the universe, as they are linked to the Big Bang, as well as dark matter and dark energy.
While unquestionably contributing new and valuable research in her field, Dr. Mutlu-Pakdil hopes that other women, other minorities and other faithful people face fewer obstacles than she has. She actively serves organizations that are working to improve the climate for women and minorities in science. Dr. Mutlu-Pakdil gives back to the community by providing impactful education programs that make science more accessible to everyone.
Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership
Over the past decade, cases of HIV have increased dramatically across the Philippines, one of the few countries with a rising incidence of the disease. However, those living with HIV often have no knowledge about the disease and find that there is no counseling available, thus often making them feel they must keep their status hidden from their family and friends due to stigma.
Serving as a nurse and educator Ronivin “Vinn” Pagtakhan, does what he can in his daily life to help people by taking to twitter to answer health questions and providing compassionate answers to these people who were seeking honest and accessible health advice. Noticing that many of the questions he would receive were about HIV and sexually transmitted infections, Pagtakhan founded the organization LoveYourself.
LoveYourself’s aim is to open self-sustaining resource centers for youth and LGBT communities that offer education and counseling. These centers try to serve as a model community by creating safe environments that embrace and nurture an individual’s self-worth. LoveYourself centers provide a vital service to local communities, seeing over 120 clients daily and contributing 17% of the nation’s newly diagnosed HIV reports. The organization bridges gaps in the HIV continuum of care by scaling up HIV testing, linking those diagnosed with treatment and counseling, and creating a community that has led to reduced loss of life.
Pagtakhan empowers LGBT persons, youth and the general public to recognize their own value and self-worth, take care of their health and well-being, and in the process, join in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Azzam Sheikh Alsouq
Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership
When the Syrian Crisis began in 2011, Azzam Sheik Alsouq and his friends noticed garbage being dumped in the streets due to a lack of municipal services. Sheik Alsouq was quickly drawn to supporting his community and worked with his friends to develop community-based initiatives to clean their neighborhood streets.
Sheik Alsouq began to volunteer, serving as a nurse treating war injuries and quickly joined the Syrian Red Crescent. Supporting the crisis situation gave him a first-hand look at the overcrowded shelters and the major gaps facing displaced persons.
In 2015, Sheik Alsouq coordinated the first outreach volunteer group in his home city of Homs with UNICEF. 100 community representatives from different groups joined the outreach team who focused on gaining and spreading skills including mobilization, community-based initiatives, interview and communication skills, facilitating awareness sessions and organizing recreational events. After working as a Life Skills Trainer for the Danish Refugee Council and implementing 40 community-based initiatives, Sheik Alsouq shifted his work from his home town to other areas across Syria. He has provided emergency health response in five camps for refugees and internally displaced persons inhabited by 130,000 individuals. Since then, he has founded the Health Working Group for Refugees in Syria, which coordinates the health response from national and international agencies.
Led by his belief that we live our life when we live for others, Sheik Alsouq has never let his own status as an internally displaced person get in the way of serving others in need. His greater purpose to reach the most vulnerable groups drives him to create positive impact in his community.
Business, Economic, and/or Entrepreneurial Accomplishment
Food insecurity is a pervasive problem across the African continent, however where others saw a challenge, Jacinta Uramah saw an opportunity for economic empowerment. Recognizing that while agriculture is essential to Nigeria’s economy and a growing population is diminishing resources, Uramah determined that her country needs a more sustainable agricultural ecosystem.
Uramah founded The Green Generation Initiative to address this need. Providing support to smallhold farmers and teaching young school children the business of agriculture, the organization aims to create a sustainable agricultural ecosystem through research, technology and empowerment. The organization focuses in three areas: research development, quality agricultural education and capacity building of actors in the agricultural value chain.
Uramah’s organization has provided training and mentorship to farmers on nutrition assessment, sustainable supply chains, technology in agriculture, food security analysis and market penetration. Her initiative has organized over 2000 rural women into cooperatives that link them with adequate financing for their agricultural services. At the same time, they have trained teachers and students in vegetable production skills and raised funds for over 120 schools to establish vegetable gardens using climate-smart agricultural practices.
To date, Uramah’s has impacted over 21,000 smallhold farmers and young people across Nigeria while also mobilizing the agricultural industry to redefine its standards for sustainable business, production and consumption. With continued efforts to bring innovation and agriculture to youth, she hopes to transform the minds of a new generation of farmers who will be able to realize the change needed.