Empowering Activities: Growing Community and Character through Leadership

asian teen girl writing on whiteboard in classroom
Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

Curious about how one student grows both community and character through his leadership talents? We have personal insights just for you, from our very own student Adarsh Muru! In fact, Adarsh is not only a young entrepreneur with a mission, but personally dedicated to helping his community. Let’s see what he has to say about succeeding in high school and beyond!

This interview is one installment in our Empowering Activities series. To read more profiles like this, check out other posts right here on our blog!  We hope that celebrating our stellar Empowerly students will inspire other high schoolers to reach for the stars. 

About Adarsh:

Hello, my name is Adarsh, I am a freshman at American High School in Fremont, California, and this is my first blog post. Just a little background info about me:  I am an avid coder and reader, basketball player, and a volunteer tutor for young children. I have created a non-profit organization, Sprouting Youth Foundation, that teaches kids of all ages STEM and public speaking which uses a curriculum that I have created. Furthermore, I have even worked as an intern at the humanist global charity to alleviate needy people from poverty in India and a part of an FTC robotics team. My passion is to pursue the field of Cognitive science and Linguistics. I have made a Linguistics Club in my school and I write blogs about these subjects on my blog.

Important Awards and Accomplishments, So Far…

  • Alameda County Science Fair (3rd place)
  • Toastmasters Public Speaking Competition (2nd place)
  • FTC competition (1st in regionals, and 3rd in state)
  • School science fair (3rd place)

We at Empowerly are so impressed with all Adarsh has accomplished. Especially so, considering that he is overcoming obstacles presented by a pandemic, and still in his ninth grade year! With such a strong start to his high school career, we can’t wait to see what Adarsh does next. Let’s hear how he manages to make it all happen…

Questions:

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! We are so excited to learn more about you and your amazing work. So…

Empowerly: Which activity(s) do you participate in that makes you feel most empowered, and why?

Adarsh: In seventh grade I started to explore the venue of teaching kids in my school for extra credit in common subjects such as math or science. I would teach many kids 1-on-1 to help them understand concepts. It was the lightbulb that went off in their head that would make me feel happy about my abilities to teach. When I finish teaching a concept, I would sometimes hear an “Ohhh” from the student. That “aha” moment is what really makes me feel empowered. And I thought, if I could teach 1 student in a 1-on-1 session, why couldn’t I teach to a group of students? 

My school wouldn’t provide this opportunity for me, so I would go on to create a curriculum for both the STEM and public speaking course. Using this curriculum, I had taught a small group of students in the summer of 8th grade, and over the course of the school year, my programs had started to gain momentum as many new students had heard about these programs through referrals. I realized that the funds generated from these programs could greatly benefit the marginalized community. Hence, the Sprouting Youth Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was born. We have donated cpap machines and oxygen cylinders to hospitals in India during their second wave of COVID-19. 

Over the course of these programs we have had 100 unique students join these classes (70 students this summer alone). While I do have other tutors teaching students for different classes, I still do teach at least one of my classes because of my natural drive to teach.

E: How long have you been doing these activities?

A: The non-profit was initiated in October 2020, yet the teaching initiative itself had started in the summer of 2019. Next summer, we aim to expand the foundation’s reach and I plan to continue fundraising events during the school year.

E: How did you first discover your passion(s), and when was that?

A: At the end of the day, what matters most is what my passion is. As a kid, I used to participate in state Science Olympiads. One of the years, I was assigned to the Ciphers and decryption event as well as the psychology event. I was kind of bummed out that I had gotten these two events and started to prepare for them. When I had started to learn about these events, I soon became addicted to cracking language ciphers and learning about how the brain works. No other Science Olympiad events had made me feel this way from the previous years or future years. To this day, I really love learning about Linguistics and Cognitive science, through courses and youtube videos. To many people, both of these fields are not heard enough and I hope to spread my love for these subjects through my blogs and a club I run in my school.

E: Have you faced any memorable turning points or obstacles along your journey?

A: A strong realization that I have faced is that many kids in public schools are still not yet geared towards learning public speaking. Many schools do not emphasize the sheer importance of speaking in public. Many kids choose not to express or participate in the STEM classes that I conduct, and even my own grademates choose to keep to themselves in class. Public schools do not teach public speaking actively and that was something that had to change. There is no use in waiting to see these kids grow up to be shy and less interactive. I needed to change kids’ perspectives about public speaking because, to me, public speaking is fun and it is a highly important part of daily life.

Now, the Communication and Leadership program in the Sprouting Youth Foundation is the most common program among kids and they come out of class having fun and speaking with a confident voice. 

E: What are your plans for the future (in high school, college, or beyond)?

A: As I mentioned before, I would learn about ciphers and the working of the brain, day and night. I love Linguistics and Cognitive Science, so I plan to double major in both of these fields. I also aim to expand the Sprouting Youth Foundation and spread this reach to hundreds of kids across the country.

E: How has Empowerly helped you move your passions/activities forward?

A: Empowerly has helped me to find internships that would help me follow my passion as well as boost my extracurriculars. They guided me through the internship process over the summer, and I gained many experiences through this. Empowerly has provided me with constant opportunities, such as internships with STEMEY, Pencil, and BumoBrain. I would really like to thank them for that. 

E: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

A: One thing that I would like to share is to always be engaged with your world. Whether it be through engaging with local issues or helping out with global issues such as COVID-19, the world needs it. When people in your school district are facing issues with academics, you could help them out. When the world is going through this global pandemic, you can volunteer at places that need help, or raise funds for the people in need. This core value is what the Sprouting Youth Foundation is based around: engaging in the community. If you would like to join the Sprouting Youth initiative as a student, tutor, or volunteer, please email syfoundationusa@gmail.com. Thank you.

Final Thoughts:

We at Empowerly are constantly impressed by the amazing work of students in our community. If you are curious to learn more about activities that will empower your students, we are here! Reach out to learn more about our program and how we can help. Book a free consultation below to receive a customized recommendation for your college application plan.

Questions? Let us know!