2017 Award Recipients

Denali Schultz

During her time in high school, Denali Schultz became an involved member of the community. She volunteered often, and joined the Native Youth Leadership team in Kenai. While acting as a leader in her community, Denali was also working two jobs to help pay the bills for her family. Denali overcame a number of personal challenges, but continued to give back to her community and to her peers.

  • Home Town Soldotna
  • School District KPBSD
  • Award Category Phoenix

Jedediah Dean

For the past four years, Colony High School Senior Jedediah Dean has been conducting independent research to determine whether radiation levels have been rising on the beaches of Prince William Sound as a result of the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Jedediah has won a number of awards at the Alaska State Science and Engineering Fair, and placed second at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

  • Home Town Palmer
  • School District Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District
  • Award Category Discovery

Kaisa Reese Ahluniq Kotch

Kaisa Reese Ahluniq Kotch is devoted to combating suicide in her community. Kaisa is a member of the TECK Youth Leader’s Program, a school district program in which youth are trained in bullying and suicide prevention. She also serves as a youth representative with the Maniilaq Behavioral Health Program, which works to identify and combat primary causes of suicide. Kaisa volunteers frequently, singing for the community’s elders at the Long Term Care Unit, helping out with shiifish and hotcake feeds, and participating in Elders Council potlucks, among other pursuits.

  • Home Town Kotzebue
  • School District Northwest Arctic Borough School District
  • Award Category Lifesaver

Kaulani Napoleon

Kaulani Napoleon organized a donation drive aimed at collecting school supplies for refugee youth in the community. He began by presenting the idea to the Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services program run by Catholic Social Services in Anchorage. After receiving the green light from RAIS, Kaulani began reaching out, organizing, and educating the community. At the end of three months, Kaulani had collected hundred of school supplies from people across the country. The supplies were meticulously organized based on the individual needs of each student.

  • Home Town Eagle River
  • School District
  • Award Category Humanitarian

Maiya Anderson

Bringing together her passion for music and psychology, Maiya Anderson started a piano lesson program at the senior center in Kenai. The lessons bring joy to the elders in the community, while also helping to bridge a generational divide. Not only is Maiya able to create a strong bond with elders—the program also gives elders the opportunity to share their traditional knowledge and wisdom.

  • Home Town Kenai
  • School District Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
  • Award Category Dreamer

Savannah Rizzo

Savannah Rizzo has worked to establish an organization called T-Books, which provides new books to disadvantaged youth in her community. The goal is to ensure that all young people have access to literature. Through a number of fundraisers, the group was able to raise $3,000, which has been used to purchase new books for students throughout the Kenai Borough School District. They also provided Battle of Books books to Russian schools that would not otherwise be able to afford participation. T-Books is beginning to expand its programs, and is currently working to provide books to schools in Louisiana where many school libraries have lost their collections due to flooding.

Savannah is working hard to inspire youth in her community, and reduce poverty by promoting literacy.

  • Home Town Kenai
  • School District Kenai Peninsula School District
  • Award Category Visionary

Shaela Asbury

Shaela created, organized and directed Agents for Change, a youth-led initiative at Colony Middle School designed to study and raise awareness about local and global issues where children face adversity and crisis. Agents for Change members fundraise for organizations that support children. Shaela is driven by her immense compassion for others.

  • Home Town Palmer
  • School District MSBSD
  • Award Category Role Model

The Quantum Mechanics FTC Robotics Team #11168

The Quantum Mechanics is a rookie, community-based robotics team for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). The team has achieved success with a competitive robot that broke a world record. The members of The Quantum Mechanics team are highly motivated boy scouts that are working to expand STEM activities to all youth, including those with challenges.

  • Home Town Eagle River
  • School District various (ASD & Iditarod Distance Learning Center)
  • Award Category Innovator

Information about the 2017 Runners-Up can be found here.