Tyler Clementi Foundation is not currently accepting applications for Youth Ambassadors. Please sign up for our newsletter for updates on the next application period for Youth Ambassador Cohorts. If you have questions about the program please e-mail Program Manager Ryan Smith at Ryan@tylerclementi.org.
As a Youth Ambassador (YA), you will join a diverse group of students from across the country to plan anti-bullying actions in your community. You will learn about and discuss current issues like discrimination, power dynamics, abusive behaviors, cyberbullying and microaggressions. Working together with your peers, you will identify how bullying is an issue in your school or community. Then, you will work to prevent and interrupt by developing a change-making campaign, organizing fundraisers, or leading online or offline actions.
At the Tyler Clementi Foundation, we believe that achieving our goal of ending bullying in schools should be led by ambitious, talented, and compassionate youth across the country. We welcome applications from High School and College-aged youth (13-20) who are interested in being change-makers in their local communities. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions related to the program.
Fall 2020 Cohort (September 2020 – May 2020)
Ryleigh Bateman is a junior at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Indiana. She heard about the Tyler Clementi Foundation and their Youth Ambassador team through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program that she is involved with. Throughout her life, she has always wanted to find a way to better the lives of other people. She has done this by volunteering at free meal sites, joining her school’s Key Club, and with other organizations. For the past two years she has been a Youth Ambassador for her county’s Council of Youth Development. In this role, Ryleigh has helped organize community events and a week-long Youth Summit that promotes community awareness and youth wellness.
When she heard about the Tyler Clementi Foundation, she decided it would be a great way to apply her passions: volunteering and kindness, on a broader level while collaborating with other fantastic people. As a Youth Ambassador, she hopes to implement kindness programs into her school and make people more aware of bullying and mental health issues. After high school, Ryleigh aspires to attend college and eventually earn a Doctorate degree in order to become a college professor.
Instagram: b.r.i.m.o.r.e.n.o | Facebook: Brianna Moreno | Snapchat: bxbybri6
Brianna Moreno is a 16 year old Junior from Riverview Senior High School in Riverview, Florida. Since growing up as an Army brat, she was always the new kid in school every 2-3 years, and consequently was subject to bullying. She has always valued how she dresses, talks, and carries herself around others; however, her peers did not always prioritize the same things. In the past, Brianna has been pushed to give in to the peer pressure a lot, but she has learned to stay true to herself, focusing on academics and developing self-confidence.
Today, Brianna is an Upstander and does not tolerate bullying of any kind because she knows all too well the effects of bullying, harassment, negativity, and bigotry. Brianna likes to challenge herself academically, but is also reliable, determined, and energetic about service and her talents in band and student leadership. She is an Ambassador in Girl Scouts of Central Florida serves as a youth representative in her faith community by attending regional conferences. Her upbringing taught her to value love, kindness, and humility , which is what she wishes to instill in her community. Brianna is very excited to be working with other Tyler Clementi Foundation Youth Ambassadors and hopes to continue to be a role model for those around her.
Giancarlo Trotti is an eighteen year old student presently residing in New York City. Giancarlo is attending American University’s School of Arts and Sciences in Washington, D.C. in January, 2021, wherein he will pursue a music degree. Giancarlo is a saxophone player who has frequently used his music to express important issues such as civil rights, anti-bullying and mental health matters. Over the last six years Giancarlo has performed in the prestigious New York City All City Jazz Band, the New York City All City Marching Band, the Queens Borough Wide Salute to Music Program in addition to six different school bands. He has also written and performed solo pieces for several different fundraiser events. Additionally, Giancarlo has been an active participant in his local community soccer program, the Forest Hills Youth Athletic Association. Over numerous years with this organization, he has held many roles ranging from the Master of Ceremonies at its year-end fund raiser/awards night, event planner and organizer, and office assistant. However, most fulfilling was Giancarlo’s work as a soccer referee wherein he taught teamwork, cooperation, soccer skills and sportsmanlike conduct to young children. Currently, Giancarlo is an Island Harvest volunteer whereby he assists in food distribution to the elderly, veterans and children.
Giancarlo is honored to be a part of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Its mission speaks to him as he has personally overcome bullying and often speaks up for individuals who are being bullied, harassed, or humiliated. He believes that if people work together in movements and programs by pooling their strengths and sharing their ideologies, this societal problem, in its most dangerous form, can be eliminated. As a result, Giancarlo is eager to join this Foundation because he aligns with its ideals and desires to make a difference by being an Upstander.
Isabella Ellison is a 15-year-old high school student in Wilmington, NC, who attends New Hanover High School. Along with the Youth Ambassador program, Bella also works with TopSoccer, which is an organization that provides children with disabilities the ability to become a part of their community through sports. Additionally, she is on the board of her local chapter of the National Charity League, which is a mother-daughter based program focused on volunteer opportunities within the community. Through all of this work, Isabella strives to help individuals of all backgrounds and abilities feel included and welcome.
Isabella is also an avid soccer player, playing for her local club, the Wilmington Hammerheads, on their ‘04 Girls ECNL team. In school, she is a member of student council, where she and her classmates work to make the school a better place for all students. Bella believes that the best way to combat bullying is to dismantle traditional stereotypes of the aggressor and target, and what that relationship looks like, as well as providing educators and parents with resources on how to stay connected to their students’ needs. As a Youth Ambassador, Bella hopes to create a safer, more inclusive space within her school and to make a difference in her broader community.
Danna Mejia is a hard-working 14 yr old freshman at New Tech Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina. She has attended various schools and programs and has experienced both sides of bullying. Danna was part of Emily K, a college access non-profit organization in Durham. She participated in camps such as Drama Camp, Basketball Camp, and Summer Scholars. She was part of the Pioneer scholars group at Emily K, it was simply tutoring but Danna also met new people with different cultures and backgrounds. She was embraced in a nice and kind community. This community and friends later on made her realize that bullying was wrong and that having a positive mindset was the best thing to do. “No matter how hard things are you always have to look at the positive side, at least that’s what keeps me going.”-Danna Mejia
Danna was bullied in elementary and entered middle school filled with anger at what others had done to her in the past, as a result, she herself bullied others and pushed everyone away.. After realizing what she had become, she changed her ways and apologized to everyone she had pushed away. She developed a more positive attitude and joined the Women and Math (WAM) tutoring program. She hopes to become a member of Scholars to College- an academic college-access program organized by the Emily K Center.
As a Youth Ambassador Danna wants to spread awareness around the harmful effects of bullying since it is a serious issue in her school. She is currently working to spread awareness first at her school and eventually to all Durham Public School students.
Jake Summerill Bizzell
Jake Summerill Bizzell is a 15-year old sophomore at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California.Adopted at birth by his two dads, he is passionate about helping children caught in the nation’s foster care system. Starting at age 10, Jake served as the Youth Ambassador for the Heart Gallery of Washington, DC and Baltimore City, MD. The gallery is a traveling exhibit of portraits of foster children seeking permanent homes. Jake lobbied local, state, and federal officials in order to provide greater visibility for the gallery, and he also met with local celebrities to educate them on the issues.
Jake joined the Youth Ambassador program to develop a student lead anti-bullying program at his school and then encourage other Bay Area students to start similar programs. When not cheering on the Denver Broncos, Jake enjoys hiking in the Marin Headlands and team sailing on the San Francisco Bay.
Samantha Meyer is a junior at Bernards High School. She enjoys volunteering and holds making a difference as her main life goal. She is very driven and persistent, plus is great at self-motivation as well as motivating others. Outside of community service, Samantha enjoys figure skating, specifically synchronized skating, piano, theater, cooking, gardening, tennis, and crafting. She was a C.I.T. at two different YMCA camps and is the current project manager of her school’s Green Team, so she is not new to being in a position of leadership.
Instagram: @alina_dev7 | Snapchat: @Alidev15
Alina Devian is a 15-year-old sophomore at New Milford High School in New Jersey. She is very passionate about inclusion and diversity. She believes in standing up for others and being an ally to those who may not have a voice. This is Alina’s first year as a Youth Ambassador and she is eager to learn more about leadership and being an advocate for others. Alina wanted to be a part of the Tyler Clementi Foundation because she has experience with bullying and knows how painful it can be; she would like to decrease rates of bullying at her school in order to limit the harmful effects of bullying. Alina considers herself very empathetic and understanding. As a Youth Ambassador, she plans to use her voice to make a positive impact in her community.
Spring 2020 Cohort (April 2020 – January 2021)
Anushka Dalvi was a senior in International Academy East in Troy, Michigan. She will be attending the University of Michigan this Fall of 2020. “I joined the youth ambassadors program last year because I have always been in a safe space and have never experienced bullying. Reading the news, it upsets me that not everyone has a safe and comfortable environment. This is why I want to take an initiative to help others live in a positive community”. As a senior, she started a kindness program, which provided an opportunity for the students to write positive shout outs in our school newspaper. Also, as an aspiring medical professional, She researched anxiety due to social and academic reasons, which is very common among high schoolers and got the opportunity to share and raise awareness about mental health to some students through Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) club in her school. She is planning to continue this program in the future!
Katherine Gelshenen is a 15 year old high school sophomore in Ridgewood, New Jersey that attends Ridgewood High School. Through volunteering and tutoring, Katherine has worked with many young kids, some who have been bullied as well as those who were on the other side of the story. Katherine leads in her community by promoting young minds to push themselves past the stereotypes they were given. In her first year as a youth Ambassador, she and a fellow youth ambassador Melissa Reifman, started the #Day1Reps. This program brings together like-minded students from Bercan County high schools to help spread the Upstander movement. She is an active debater at her school and is a math instructor to children as well as a tennis instructor. Katherine promoted the education of young minds when last year she ran a book fair at the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson. She believes that the best way to prevent bullying is to begin to combat it from a young age and educate people on the different types of bullying. By teaching acceptance, respect, and inclusion, Katherine’s goal is to help children build awareness of how to help others and themselves deal with bullying, and to be positive role models in their communities. As a second year Youth Ambassador, Katherine hopes to expand her knowledge and continue to support the Tyler Clementi Foundation with the #Day1Reps and more.
Shreya Krishnan is a 15-year-old sophomore at Discovery Canyon Campus, Colorado Springs. Her path to TCF began when she was selected to be the spokesperson for the anti-bullying and suicide prevention campaign spearheaded by the Colorado Springs Conservatory. In 2018, during the campaign, she had the opportunity to engage with 10,000 elementary and middle school students in the Pikes Peak region and spoke at the Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County Commissioners meetings. She is actively involved in her community and was selected to be a Young Champion Ambassador for the City of Colorado Springs, a youth leadership program, and was selected to be a torchbearer for the Tokyo Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics. She was also selected for the two-year Mayor’s leadership program Ticket to Success in middle school. She has volunteered her time teaching dance for kids with disabilities and choreographed community shows and musicals. In school, as a Principal’s Honor Roll student since elementary school, she has lettered in Academics, Choir, Speech, and Future Business Leaders of America. She is inducted in the French Honor Society, Thespian Honor Society, and will serve as the Secretary of the Tri-M Honor Society. She is a pianist, violinist, dancer, singer, and actress. She has performed in the state, regional, and national honor choirs, including Carnegie Hall, and the Paris Choral Festival. She is excited to continue her work for TCF as a youth ambassador
Jared Orlov is a 16-year-old social activist in New York City. His goal is to become a kindergarten teacher and model behaviors that help kids develop and nurture kindness, in which he believes profoundly. That requires working to end prejudice, bias and bigotry to make the world more just. His interest in the Tyler Clementi Foundation was sparked by attending a TCF event, listening to stories about bullying and suicide, and connecting them to his own experiences. As an Upstander, Jared has intervened in bullying situations. He believes that his personal mission is to help others to the best of his ability, thus ensuring a better future for following generations. Jared’s mission is to prevent and intervene in bullying, and to spread the word about its implications for suicidal thoughts and actions.
His preferred approach is to affect kids through contact in their everyday lives. Kindness and thoughtfulness can be learned behaviors. Jared believes if children acquire or hone those life skills at a young age, they will be less prone to bullying others and more prone to working to understand others. Jared has worked at his Taekwondo dojang teaching martial arts to children. He has also been a Taekwondo summer camp counselor for 3 years, and is now Lead Junior Counselor. Jared provides kids with concrete, replicable examples of how to be kind and supportive to each other, and how to look out for kids who are isolated. Child by child, Jared emphasizes the value of cooperation and the concept of the “indomitable spirit” – when you get knocked down, you get right back up again; you may have a bad day being bullied, but hang on to your self-worth and keep moving forward.
Melissa Reifman is a 17-year-old, junior from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. Combating bullying became an important cause for her after seeing its devastating effects in the news, particularly in the form of youth suicides. Seeing kids younger than herself taking their lives because of others’ mean words and actions broke her heart and motivated her to start making a difference. Melissa created an initiative called P.A.S.T. Bullying, which stands for Putting A Stop To Bullying. The week-long campaign included daily PSA’s (public service announcements), hand-outs, as well as an evening program. At the program, she interviewed Mrs. Clementi about her son Tyler, as well as Jenna Rose, who faced bullying as the result of a viral YouTube video. Along with P.A.S.T. Bullying, Melissa has led an anti-bullying workshop for middle school girls as well as made cards and bracelets for victims of bullying. In addition to preventing bullying, Melissa is passionate about her schoolwork and extracurricular activities. At her school, she is the Vice President of Sophomore Class Council, Vice President of Rotary Club, News Editor of the school newspaper, and an attorney on the school’s mock trial team. Outside of school, Melissa enjoys teaching and practicing taekwondo.
Abby James-Vickery is a 17-year-old high school student in Hackensack, New Jersey, and believes that all people have the right to be happy. Abby has worked hard to raise awareness for many social justice issues, for example being president of the Social Justice Club at her school. She became involved in TCF by becoming #Day 1 representative. She has always had an interest in raising awareness of bullying, especially when it has to do with race, gender, sexuality, and religion. She believes that people deserve to be themselves without fear of what others will do. She believes that kids should live their life to the fullest and should be accepted. She applies her beliefs to the summer camp that she works so that she can make kids feel safe and loved. In addition, Abby is very involved at school, she is treasurer of the student council, a school ambassador, drama club representative, social justice club president, and is a member of the Spanish Honor Society. After high school, she plans to become a social worker. Abby’s goal in life is to make people feel loved, accepted, celebrated, and safe, and she believed that being a youth ambassador can lead her in the right direction. Abby is very excited to work closely with the TCF Youth Ambassadors and help make a difference where she can.
is a 15-year-old from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey and is currently a freshman at Northern Highlands Regional High School. Michael applied to be a Youth Ambassador after seeing the amazing work being done by the Tyler Clementi Foundation and wanted to take part in their mission to stop on and offline bullying. He is involved in his school newspaper, A Capella, and Model UN.
Pelin E. Cokuslu
Pelin E. Cokuslu is a 15-year-old sophomore in Fairview, New Jersey. She attends Cliffside Park High School. Pelin has always had a deep curiosity for learning, and it is through such engagement with all branches of knowledge which express her diverse range of interests. Her passions unfold into meaningful experiences. Pelin not only has the honor of being the youngest member of the Academic Decathlon team but also being the only underclassman representative in her Student Council. Since the age of six, she has been dedicating her time to two rewarding passions: dancing and singing. Alongside having expertise in the modern and hip-hop dance styles, which developed under the training she received at CMDE dance academy, she is also a long-standing member of The Young People’s Chorus at Thurnauer in JCC Tenafly. Being a target of emotional and verbal bullying, Pelin has taken the righteous stand of blossoming this moment of rottenness in order to spread awareness. She was chosen to represent her high-school in the #Day1 Representatives program. Pelin’s strong interpersonal skills, diligence, perseverance, and leadership qualities allowed her to take the initiative to create her own club in order to implement the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s mission to prevent bullying and educate young children on the important virtue of empathy in her local community.
Smriti Suresh is a 16-year-old high school student from Troy, Michigan. Smriti Suresh is a sophomore from Troy, Michigan. She is a dedicated, hardworking girl who strives to help those in her community. She is very confident and outgoing and is a very good team worker. She helps out in her community by tutoring elementary school kids, as well as doing many community cleanings and event organizing. She has led many projects in her school district and hopes to move these projects to a wider audience through the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Smriti’s goal is to give all kids the knowledge needed to make their community a safe, inclusive place. She hopes to create many kind role models that will lead future generations.
Emma Balfay is a 15-year-old sophomore at McKinney Boyd High School living in McKinney, Texas. Emma’s goal is to encourage inclusivity and diversity throughout all high schools in America. As a friend and ally to the LGBTQ+ community, Emma has dedicated her life and time to making the school environment a better place for teens of different gender identities and sexualities. Being born and raised in Texas, one of the most diverse places in the nation, but also one of the least accepting states in the nation, has become the main part of her identity as well as her motivator in activism. Emma first started taking action in middle school as a part of the YMCA’s Youth and Government program, which awakened her to the disparity in equality legislation towards LGBTQ+ people; forming her end goal of changing legislation in Texas to become more inclusive and fair towards all Texans. Noticing the pattern of ignorance that starts in childhood and at our elementary schools, Emma recognizes the importance of teaching young kids about diversity while they are still fresh-minded and unbiased, in order to help further prevent bullying when they mature and go to upper-level schools.
Emma is also a very involved member of the community and finds herself spending large hours of her time doing volunteer service. As a member of both her schools Key Club and a participant in Green Cord, she is required to complete upwards of 130 hours of service per school year. Due to her love of art and history, she often finds herself volunteering at the local history museum and local performing arts center. Emma was first pointed towards the Tyler Clementi Foundation by a Youth and Government advisor, who recognized her passion for LGBTQ+ rights, thought the organization could be a vessel for her goals of activism and change. Emma is looking forward to working with the TCF to change the perception of bullying in America and to make the world a more inclusive and friendlier place.