Brianna Katz – Kansas Nomination & Photography by Lauren Melissa Photography Issue 47 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Brianna is bold—both in front of and behind the camera. I met Brianna in our local coffee shop. Her willingness to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger ultimately led to our photoshoot together. And when she isn't spontaneously meeting new people, she is passionate through her servant-leadership. Brianna was the regional president of her youth group, BBYO (the largest growing, international, teen-lead, pluralistic Jewish movement in the world). With her position and her passion to serve others, she ensured that teens were part of the Jewish community and important Jewish conversations were held throughout the area.
Photography by Lauren Melissa Photography
Tell us more about this role. How did you get it, what is it, and what are your roles and responsibilities? The role of regional president of BBYO consisted of creating, overseeing, and leading both virtual and in person programs for fellow teens. As president I also mentored and aided younger groups of aspiring leaders, and I orchestrated training conferences and conventions with the rest of my board along with other regional presidents. I was elected into the position, and I am forever honored to have been able to serve in it.
What sort of changes were you able to make in your community through it? I was able to inspire younger members of my youth group to want to get more involved in their community. By encouraging them to be part of the larger conversations our community has regarding religion, community service, and the ever changing allyships we need to create, not only did the teens learn to stand up for themselves, but we taught the adults how to listen to and appreciate a younger voice.
What are you most proud of from being a leader in this endeavor? I am most proud of persevering throughout the pandemic. Immediately when the pandemic started I joined multiple task forces that worked to move our programming online, support the upstanding workers in our community, and fundraise for families in need.
Photography by Lauren Melissa Photography
What are you doing now to help prepare for this career? I am currently working full time at a law firm in order to understand the work that goes into law cases, as well as working at a coffee shop. By doing both jobs I am learning how to manage my work, mental health, and financially support myself.
What legacy or inspiration do you hope to leave behind to younger teens you are working with now in this regard? I hope to leave a legacy of hard work and self love. I am the kind of person who tends to put themself last when it comes to helping others, regardless of who they are. I am learning how to balance my workload, the help I give to others, and the love and care I need to give myself. When I am at my best, I can in turn help others to the best of my ability. I hope younger teens can see this and learn from it as well.
Look for Brianna in issue 47 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!
Lexie Diskin – Kansas Interview by Inspiring Teens Nomination and Photography by Caridad Flowers Photography Issue 42 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: When I look at Lexie, I see a beautiful and strong young lady with a vibrant personality. She has not always had it easy. Lexie was born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, and missing her left ear. The whole left side of her face was underdeveloped. She has Goldenhar syndrome, a rare congenital condition which has required her to have multiple surgeries over the years. Lexie has never allowed her condition to hinder her in any way. She is a tough competitor who plays on her high school and competitive softball teams. She is a member of the Teen Advisory Board at Children’s Mercy Hospital where she has had her numerous surgeries. Lexie is a member of the National Honor Society and Yearbook Editor are just a few of her activities. She is a caring individual and volunteers at Shadow Buddies Foundation which is an organization that provides support for special needs children. Lexie would like to pursue a career in pediatric nursing because of the nurses that have been there for her through all her surgeries. I am extremely proud to nominate Lexie. I can't think of anyone who would be more deserving. She is truly an inspiration.
Tell us about your Goldenhar syndrome. My journey with Goldenhar syndrome has been my whole life, and I will continue to live with it my whole life. I have had about 30 surgeries, and each is different and usually builds off of one another. Some are easier than others to recover from but no matter what from the help of my family, friends, and doctors I am always able to push through.
What do you do as Yearbook editor and what legacy do you hope to leave behind? As a yearbook editor I oversee all of the operations, choose the fonts, colors, design of the book, and I look over all of the pages and edit them before they are sent off. I want to leave and make a book that people can look back on and be proud of their school and everyone that went there.
Share with us your softball journey. Softball and baseball has been a part of my life since the day I was born, my entire family plays, has played, or coaches. I started playing softball when I was in second grade. Usually kids start in tee ball, but I didn’t even know I was going to be able to play any sports until my doctor finally cleared me to play (with a face mask on at all times). I am so passionate about the sport because I understand that I might not have been able to play it, and meet all my amazing teammates and coaches, and learn so many valuable lessons. My biggest accomplishment is playing on a very competitive team and play some of the best competition in the nation, and even after all of my surgeries I always come back.
How has volunteering at Shadow Buddies helped you in your quest to pursue a career in pediatric nursing? I actually got a shadow buddy when I was little, and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone on my journey and that there are other people just like me. I have seen so many kids who go through so much for their age. This has made me want to become a pediatric nurse because I want to be someone that they can connect with and they can talk to, and I want to be there to make them feel more comfortable during their hardest days.
Look for Lexie in issue 42 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!