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Students who found new ways to give back.

  1. 1. 1/18/12 Students who found new ways to give back. - NYTimes.com HOME PAGE TODAYS PAPER VIDEO MOST POPULAR TIMES TOPICS Log In Register Now Search All NYTimes.com Education Life WORLD U.S. N.Y. / REGION BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY SCIENCE HEALTH SPORTS OPINION ARTS STYLE TRAVEL JOBS REAL ESTATE POLITICS EDUCATION BAY AREA CHICAGO TEXAS STRATEGY | COMMUNITY SERVICE Five Do-Gooders By KATIE ZEZIMA, ABBY ELLIN and INYOUNG KANG Published: January 7, 2011 An SAT Savior RECOMMEND TWITTER Enlarge This Image A FEW weeks after LINKEDIN he took the SAT, SIGN IN TO E- Jason Shah MAIL realized something PRINT more vexing to REPRINTS him than algebraic SHARE formulas or word usage problems: that many students can’t afford or access programs to prepare them for the test, and college. The epiphany came in a West Philadelphia middle-school classroom Maurice Handel that his sister ran as part of her Teach Elizabeth Jane Handel shares the gift of reading. for America commitment. Many students had trouble with reading and Related spelling, and Mr. Shah, then 16, Strategy | Community Service: wondered how they would be able to Does Helping Out Help You? (January 9, 2011) study for the SAT in a few years. Enlarge This Image He returned home to New Smyrna Beach, Fla., raised $10,000 from family and friends, found Web developers and began INeedaPencil.com, a Web site that offers free SAT prep, including lessons that use conversational Log in to see what your friends are sharing on nytimes.com. Log In With Faceboo Privacy Policy | What’s This? language and sports analogies and full practice exams. What’s Popular Now “Certain students either don’t do well Web Site Will Shut Down to Paula Deen Says She Has on the SAT because they don’t have the Protest Antipiracy Bills Type 2 Diabetes resources or don’t take the SAT because they think only rich kids take the test,” Michael Piazza Mr. Shah says. “It just bothers me Jason Shah started a Web site offering MOST POPULAR free SAT prep. deeply that it’s such a simple problem E-MAILED BLOGGED SEARCHED VIEWED Enlarge This Image that doesn’t have to exist.” 1. Campaign Stops: For God So Loved the 1 Percent ... Now a senior at Harvard, Mr. Shah still 2. Well: How Exercise May Keep Alzheimers at Bay runs the site. The project led him to 3. Op-Ed Contributor: My So-Called Bipolar Lifewww.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09youngleaders-t.html?pagewanted=all 1/6
  2. 2. 1/18/12 Students who found new ways to give back. - NYTimes.com major in sociology and minor in 4. Chef Has Diabetes, and Some Say ‘I Told You So’ computer science, which gave him skills 5. Well: Personal Health: Lifelines for People With Hearing Loss to run and change the site on his own. 6. Young, in Love and Sharing Everything, Including a Password 7. Maureen Dowd: Hunting, Dear Sir? Delighted! About 36,000 students have used it in 8. Editorial: Preaching Division in South Carolina the last three years, Mr. Shah says, and 9. A Good Appetite: Sorcerer’s Apprentice Hosts a Dinner students report, on average, seeing a 10. Opinion: The Rise of the New Groupthink 200-point increase in SAT score after Go to Complete List » using the service — perhaps so high because these students have had no Dallas Jessup teaches girls to defend previous help, he says. themselves. Enlarge This Image Mr. Shah won a $15,000 grant in a campus business competition and participated in a social innovation incubator. “Being in college and being surrounded by people doing really big- picture initiatives,” he says, “I learned President and Mrs. Bush honored Mike from people’s mistakes about where to Browne for his campaign. get funding, how to market the idea, Enlarge This Image the flow of the Web site. It looks very different than when it was launched.” Mr. Shah says that the site has taught him more about social entrepreneurship than sitting in a classroom and studying business theory. “You’re actually doing something,” he Paul Arnold says. “I learned a ton in college, but I’m Mitch Arnold has sent soccer a hyper-practical person in a lot of equipment to 44 nations. ways, and you’re dealing with the day- to-day challenges of things like, ‘How do you help a student across the country?’ Or dealing with the pressure of the server going down while you’re in the middle of a sociology lecture.” — KATIE ZEZIMA ‘That New Book Smell’ WHEN Elizabeth Jane Handel was a young girl, her mother would read books to her each night. A middle-school project — sorting old books to donate to other schools — made Ms. Handel realize just how lucky she was. She wanted to share the gift of reading, and a family friend mentioned that women at the prison where she worked had extremely limited resources. Ms. Handel started A Book From Mom, a program to donate children’s books to the women’s prison in Framingham, Mass. “I thought if I put books in the prison, mothers could select a book when their child came to visit and it would help ease the tension of the visits,” says Ms. Handel, now 21 and a junior at Barnard College.www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09youngleaders-t.html?pagewanted=all 2/6
  3. 3. 1/18/12 Students who found new ways to give back. - NYTimes.com Ms. Handel requires all books be new, because “every child deserves that new book smell.” Parents choose which book to read with their children, and the child takes the book home as a gift. Ms. Handel, who collects the books at drives and mails them, has since expanded the program to other prisons in her home state of Massachusetts, and dads can now participate. An English major who wants to be a writer, Ms. Handel didn’t even mention the organization when applying to college. She has benefited, though. Running it has helped her develop public speaking and leadership skills, she says. “It’s given me a lot of courage.” — KATIE ZEZIMA Score One for Peace FOUR years ago, Mitch Arnold was sitting in his church in Fort Atkinson, Wis., listening to a speech by a school principal from Haiti. “What really got me was when he said that kids play soccer in dirt and rock fields,” says Mr. Arnold, now 18. “They don’t have nice fields. They use cans as goals. Here we have these nice fields with real goals, real nets, real soccer balls, whereas they use whatever they can find because they really want to play.” Peace Is the Goal was born. The charitable foundation aims to spread peace through “the world’s game.” Using his own money as well as donations, Mr. Arnold bought balls, pumps, goals, shinguards, cleats, uniforms and field cones and sent them to Haiti. Since then, he has sent more than $27,000 worth of soccer equipment to impoverished regions of 44 countries. Next up, he hopes to go to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities or the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to study psychology and Spanish. He plans to continue his charity in college. As he noted in his application essays: “My gifts of compassion, peace and action would only be equaled by my intellectual gifts that I would utilize in the classroom and the lab. As a college student, I aim to grow as I help others to grow.” — ABBY ELLIN Putting Up a Fight WHEN Dallas Jessup heard the statistics — that one in four girls would be sexually assaulted and that thousands of others are abducted each year — she wanted to fight back, something that comes easier to her than most others. A black belt in tae kwon do at 13 and an expert in Filipino street fighting, Ms. Jessup wanted to share her self-defense skills with girls. “I have the skills to protect myself,” Ms. Jessup, now 19, recalls thinking. “Most girls don’t. Why don’t I help them out?” Ms. Jessup wanted to make a video on self-defense techniques, and her mother urged her to take a script-writing class at a communitywww.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09youngleaders-t.html?pagewanted=all 3/6
  4. 4. 1/18/12 Students who found new ways to give back. - NYTimes.com college near their home in Vancouver, Wash. Ms. Jessup told the professor of her plans, and within two months he helped her secure scores of extras and $600,000 in cash and in-kind donations. The film, “Just Yell Fire,” demonstrates fighting techniques like chokeholds and gives tips from law enforcement officials. The experience kicked off a career. While still in high school, Ms. Jessup flew around the world speaking about self-defense and female empowerment, and has testified before Congress. The video is available at justyellfire.com as a free download. Organizations can sell it with proceeds going back to her nonprofit organization; speaking fees go toward her tuition at Vanderbilt University, where she is now a sophomore. Ms. Jessup says “Just Yell Fire” and her public speaking were a big part of her college application and interview process. “I’d hear from girls who got away from situations because of what I taught them, and that’s so much more important to me than a 100 on a test,” she says. “A 91 was fine.” She told the admissions staff: “Who are you going to let in? Another 4.5 G.P.A. student or a young revolutionary who is going to change the world?” Ms. Jessup has curtailed her travel and pulled back from the day-to- day running of the “Just Yell Fire” Web site to concentrate on school. She is a communications studies major and wants to go into broadcast journalism, something she saw first-hand while being interviewed about “Just Yell Fire.” “I think the media has such power,” Ms. Jessup says. “I’d love to be involved in that and help shed light on solutions to social issues.” — KATIE ZEZIMA A Greener Way to Fish IT began with a simple question: “Dad, what happens to all the lead weights we use while fishing?” Mike Browne, who had been fishing with his father for as long as he could remember, didn’t give the matter much thought until it came time to plan his Eagle Scout project. “I didn’t want to just clean up a park,” he says. “Then, for whatever reason, I remembered that question and how I’d never gotten an answer.” Mr. Browne discovered that waterfowl and fish ingest the lead fishing weights, which dissolve in their stomachs. Lead poisoning leads to physical and behavioral changes that make these animals more vulnerable to predators and unable to care for their young. He found a Tufts University study that showed that a little more than half of adult loon deaths are caused by lead poisoning. Mr. Browne decided something needed to be done. He sent letters of solicitation to more than 70 companies, including Wal-Mart and fishing-weight manufacturers. With donations in hand, he began compiling sample packs of lead-free weights andwww.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09youngleaders-t.html?pagewanted=all 4/6
  5. 5. 1/18/12 Students who found new ways to give back. - NYTimes.com information about his campaign, and handed them out at fishing derbies around his home state of Massachusetts. “It seemed wrong when there are plenty of other alternatives,” Mr. Browne says. Fishermen can make their own weights with stones and copper wire. In 2007, Mr. Browne testified before a Massachusetts State Senate subcommittee, and on Earth Day 2008, George W. Bush honored him with the President’s Environmental Youth Award. Mr. Browne and his Scout mates traveled to Sweden to represent the United States at a United Nations youth environmental competition. To date, he and his team have collected and recycled nearly 65 pounds of lead, or 8,000 to 10,000 weights, and several states now ban or limit the use of lead sinkers. Edward Browne, Mike’s father, says he is amazed at how big his son’s campaign became. “It’s phenomenal that Mike was able to find an outlet like this,” he says. “It’s his from the ground up and gone on for years.” While the lead-free materials are still in demand, school is Mike Browne’s priority. Now a 19-year-old freshman studying electromechanical engineering at the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, he hopes to work at an aerospace company someday. The project, he says, has helped him become more organized and taught him to speak in front of crowds of officials — no small accomplishment for someone like Mr. Browne, who has Asperger’s syndrome. “People with Asperger’s become fixated with certain ideas,” Mr. Browne explains. “It helped me with this project because it allowed me to focus, to concentrate on one thing. I don’t want to be ‘cured’ of it — it’s part of who I am.” — INYOUNG KANG A version of this article appeared in print on January 9, 2011, on page ED8 of Education Life. SIGN IN TO E- MAIL PRINT REPRINTS The New York Times and the Bay Area -- save 50% on home delivery plus FREE All Digital Access. Ads by Google whats this?www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09youngleaders-t.html?pagewanted=all 5/6
  6. 6. 1/18/12 Students who found new ways to give back. - NYTimes.com ExactTarget Official Site ExactTarget Knows Email Marketing. Download Our Free Whitepaper Today! www.ExactTarget.com/Email Get Free E-mail Alerts on These Topics Colleges and Universities SAT (College Admission Test) INSIDE NYTIMES.COM DINING & WINE » OPINION » MOVIES » WORLD » OPINION » BUSINESS » What the Polls Can’t Tell Us Room for Debate asks: By November, can we expect big swings in public opinion? What issues could upend the race? Sorcerer’s Apprentice Hosts Disunion: Sherman’s ‘Crazy Horse’ by Frederick European Union’s Allure In Tech, Starting Up by a Dinner Southern Sympathies Wiseman Fades for Wary Croatia Failing Home World U.S. N.Y. / Region Business Technology Science Health Sports Opinion Arts Style Travel Jobs Real Estate Autos Back to To © 2011 The New York Times Company Privacy Your Ad Choices Terms of Service Corrections RSS First Look Help Contact Us Work for Us Advertisewww.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09youngleaders-t.html?pagewanted=all 6/6