Meet Katie Curran. She’s only a high school junior at Sturgis Charter Public School, but she’s already started her own organization aimed at making a positive impact for the youth in her community of Cape Cod. She’s also the president of her school’s Key Club and has been a young exchange ambassador to Denmark and the Czech Republic. I was so excited to interview her, as she serves as a great example of creativity and success and shows that young adults really can change the world. I interviewed her via phone to find out more about her organization and how she thinks young people can make a difference. Here’s what she had to say.
1) What inspired you to start Project Next Generation? I’d say with Project Next-Generation I’ve really always been inspired to be actively involved in the community. I’ve always had a passion for leadership and public service and I wanted to give an opportunity for young kids to be actively involved in the community and I felt that this was the perfect way to do so. Kids by themselves often times wanted to make a difference but they lacked a support group that they could work with, and I wanted to change that. So, I created Project Next Generation to give a voice to students. Project Next Generation is a civics and leadership educational organization for middle school students.
2) What are some recent projects of yours?
This past week we held the Youth Peacemaking Program, which took place at the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. We were fortunate enough to receive a grant by Hasbro and the Martin Richard Foundation. We had students tour the museum and learn more about presidential roots, and the students gave speeches. We have also held the Middle School World Peace and Leadership Program, where students participated in a Model UN session. Students were inspired to be global citizens and have a global outlook on life.
3) Why do you feel empowering youth is so important?
I feel it is important for youth to give back to their community. They should make a difference and find the causes they care about. We are the leaders of tomorrow that can make a unique difference today. I always say we are the next generation. Developing leadership skills at a young age is so important. Leadership skills grow with students and leave a long-lasting effect into their adult years.
4) What advice would you give to a young adult who wants to make a difference?
Well, I’d like to start by saying one of my favorite quotes from President John F. Kennedy, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try”. That’s one of the reasons I like your blog so much, as you highlight why it’s so important for youth to find the cause they care about. You can make a difference in endless ways, and whether it’s starting a new initiative or joining an existing organization, you can find your way to make an impact. There really are endless ways to make a difference!
5) What do you see for the future of Project Next Generation?
I think long-term, I’d love to see our Project Next Generation students grow and have a lasting impact on the community. I’m looking forward to seeing their potential unravel. As far as my organization goes, I’d like to expand Project Next Generation wherever I go to college. I’d like to offer the programs to more students. A perfect way to do so would be to use my college as a platform.
6) When you aren’t working on your organization or busy with schoolwork, what do you like to do in your free time?
When is there ever free time? *Laughs* Of course, I spend a lot of time with my family. I like to do Model UN and community service projects. I also love sailing and spending time outside. I enjoy photography as well and I take lots of pictures when I travel. I’m always following the news and staying up to date on current events. As the editor of my school’s newspaper, I also like writing a lot in my free time!
7) What modern-day issue do you feel is the most important problem for young adults to deal with? This is a tough question! I think as you resonate with your blog, every young person should find the cause they care about and make a difference in that specific field. Something that has always been on my mind has been freedom of the press worldwide. This is a huge issue that I think needs to be addressed. During my sophomore year, I represented Iran in New York City at the National High School Model United Nations Conference with my high school. I researched media freedom in the developing world for a mock UN conference and I participated in the Social Humanitarian and Cultural Committee. Media freedom is of the utmost importance. There’s a lot to be said for the power of words, and if words are limited, then stories can’t be shared. Stories are the key to making a difference in the world.
So there you have it. People like Katie are making a difference and they won’t let their age stop them from doing it. What’s holding you back from change? Regardless of age, we can all make a positive impact on this world.
Interview By: Sam Gorman, Founder of Youngchange-Bestchange
To learn more about Katie’s organization, you can check out her website here.