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State Honoree

Justina Hierta

Michigan

Justina Hierta, 16, of Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, spearheaded a youth empowerment campaign in her community to encourage teens to "make a positive, productive and lasting influence in their schools, community and around the globe." Justina, who tutors refugees in English, works with young organ transplant patients, educates middle school students about discrimination, and serves as grants co-chair for the Ann Arbor Youth Council, is indeed a
role model for her fellow students. Justina also created Arbor Renaissance, an organization which uses discount cards from local businesses to encourage youth to volunteer - discount hours increase as students accumulate more volunteer hours. In addition, Justina founded Youth Empowerment (YE!), a group which grew from a student survey she conducted on empowerment. Through YE! Justina is creating positive change in her school by encouraging the integration of volunteerism into the curriculum, and recommending that community service be used to prevent rather than punish, teen substance abuse. "I have become a voice in my community for a positive approach to solving problems that youth face today," Justina said.