The Tyler Clementi Foundation Youth Ambassador program highlights young leaders across America who are working to end all forms of bullying. From hosting campaigns and speeches to creating apps that combat cyberbullying, our Youth Ambassadors are the true definition of Upstanders. Learn more about our Youth Ambassadors and sign up using the form below!
Current Tyler Clementi Foundation Youth Ambassadors
Marisol May Gutierrez
Marisol May Gutierrez is an 11-year-old attending middle school in North Bend, Washington. Marisol started elementary school thinking her family was just like any other family but quickly found out it was different. Marisol has two moms and was bullied beginning in first grade. She knew very quickly that she must stand up against bullies and began advocating for anyone who may have been “different” but especially for LGBTQ people. Starting in 3rd grade, she began to educate her peers and teachers about creating an inclusive environment. She ran into a lot of resistance, but before she left the school, she wrote an article for the school newsletter explaining her struggles and encouraged others to work to create inclusive and safe spaces. Now, in middle school, she has started a GSA and is helping teachers to learn how they can create inclusive and safe spaces for her peers.
Trisha Prabhu is a 16-year-old high school student, innovator, social-entrepreneur and inventor of ReThink – an effective way to stop cyberbullying. ReThink is a non-intrusive, innovative, patented software product that stops cyberbullying before the bullying occurs. Inspired by the news story of the death of an 11-year old girl that committed suicide because she was repeatedly cyberbullied, Trisha took on the cause to find a solution to stop cyberbullying.Trisha has travelled the world spreading the ReThink message at global platforms such as TEDxTeen(London), TEDxGateway(Mumbai), The White house Science fair (Washington D.C.), Aspen Ideas festival (Aspen, CO), La Ciudad De Las Ideas (Mexico) and various national and international forums, schools and universities.
Sixteen-year-old Sameer Jha is a founding member of the Tyler Clementi Youth Ambassador program. He is proud to support TCF’s mission to prevent bullying by bringing initiatives like #Day1 to his middle and high school, providing input on toolkits, and promoting TCF’s efforts on social media.
Driven by his personal experiences with being bullied in school, Sameer started a nonprofit called The Empathy Alliance to make grades K-12 safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ+ students. Today, The Empathy Alliance has grown from a small, local entity working with a few schools to a national nonprofit connected to some of the largest organizations focused on the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ+ youth. Sameer is frequently invited to speak at conferences, write articles, facilitate workshops, and host educational events. His has reached thousands of educators and student leaders across America on topics as diverse as trans rights, hidden biases, starting a GSA, coming out, exploring gender, and understanding intersectionality. He has collaborated on special projects and campaigns with the ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, GSA Network, Trikone, GLSEN, Frameline, and the City of Oakland. Sameer enjoys leading meetings and fun activities as co-president of his school’s GSA, the largest and most active student club on campus. As a half-Indian, half-Pakistani queer person, Sameer also does a lot of work to remove the stigma around being an LGBTQ+ youth in South Asian and other immigrant communities. He is now distilling his learnings into a book for teachers to help them create more LGBTQ+ inclusive classrooms. Sameer is a Congressional Award recipient, and has been named one of the top trans youth activists of color in America. His work has been featured in New York Magazine, NPR, MTV News, Logo NewNowNext, Man Repeller, Youth Radio, Huffington Post, Mashable, Mercury News, Bay Area Reporter, A Beautiful Perspective, SFGate, and more. In 2017, he was honored to be the Youth Grand Marshal for Oakland Pride, the nation’s most diverse pride event with over 50,000 participants.
To relax, Sameer enjoys singing and poetry. He has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, and is a designated California Arts Scholar, Governor’s Medallion winner, and Scholastic Art & Writing National Gold Medalist.
Shane Shananaquet is a 16 year old Native American, transgender, gay male, living in a rural area of Southern Michigan. Shane lives in a single parent, low income home is a high school junior.
His intersectioning identities aside, he is a regular teenager; he enjoys music, hanging out with his friends, choir, and musicals. But his passion lies in advocacy for LGBT rights, especially in the area of LGBT Youth. Shane has spoken before the Michigan State Board of Education in support of safe and supportive schools for LGBT youth and was a Youth Ambassador for the Women’s March on Washington. He was a workshop presenter at the 2017 “Time to Thrive” conference, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, is a member of the Michigan Department of Education’s HIV Review Panel, and a member of the Michigan Organization of Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH) MiCAH (Michigan Communities Against Hate) Coalition, which seeks to institute a statewide integrated program of services and training to reduce hate crimes against LGBTQ youth. In June 2017, he was the featured speaker on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol for the Michigan Pride rally, where he spoke of the importance of amplifying youth voices. His future plans include attending the ACLU Summer Institute Program and participating in the YouthResource program for Advocates for Youth.
Shane walks the halls of school every day to taunts of “kill yourself” and worse. Where many of us would have crawled into bed forever, Shane has chosen instead to stand up and fight. He says that he wants to stand up and speak out for those that can’t yet find their voices. He takes the hit in hopes of preventing the next kid from having to do it. Shane is truly a change maker. Shane is WOKE! This kid is going places and you will know his name, well.
Jared is a 14-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. Jared believes that his personal mission is to help others to the best of his ability, thus ensuring a better future for following generations. His 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.
He has worked at his Taekwondo dojang’s summer camp as a counselor for 3 years, and is now Lead Junior Counselor, instructing children. 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, he 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.
Valerie Scarlett is a social rights activist from Buffalo, Wyoming. They’ve worked for the Matthew Shepard Foundation as a Youth Columnist, and they’re currently training with Crisis Text Line to be a Crisis Counselor. Most recently, Val was featured on MicMedia’s video promoting the importance of GLSEN’s Day of Silence.
Valerie is passionate about creating inclusive environments on and offline. They are attending Hartwick College in the hopes of obtaining a degree in Sociology, and eventually use it to address and devise potential solutions and improvements to social inequities. Val is extremely excited to be apart of the TCF Youth Ambassadors program, and can’t wait to see what lies ahead!
Charlotte Simpson is a senior at Ridgewood High School and a leader of her school’s Gay-Straight-Alliance. She led a movement to hang the pride flag in front of the school for pride month, making Ridgewood High School the first high school in the county to do so. She also led her club in the annual Day of Silence, and a pride flag sale to raise money for the New Jersey Pride Center. Charlotte was featured as an Upstander by the Tyler Clementi Foundation for her work in her community during pride month.