From launching nonprofits to volunteering their free time, these students have gone above and beyond to help others

By Diane Herbst and Wendy Grossman Kantor
May 20, 2020 01:00 PM
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Their high school experience may be coming to a close, but these six seniors are only getting started when it comes to making a positive impact on the world.

Whether it's launching nonprofits to guarantee hungry stomachs are fed, or making sure that homeless LGBTQ youth have clothes to wear, these class acts have gone above and beyond their expected extracurriculars.

Get to know the outstanding seniors below, and for more on how they're working hard to make a difference, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

Kylee McCumber

Kylee McCumber, The Winchendon School in Winchendon, Massachusetts

Future Plans: Bentley University

To help feed hungry local children, Kylee launched Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz eight years ago. The nonprofit has since pulled in more than $800,000 in donations, feeding 596 students in eight different towns.

“No child deserves to know what it’s like to get into bed hungry and wake up hungry,” she says.

Brandon Tran

Brandon Tran, Valley Christian High School in San Jose, California

Future Plans: University of Southern California to study political science and communications

Brandon and his friends launched the nonprofit basketball skills camp Heartbeat Hoops, which helps local kids learn the basics while raising money for the American Heart Association.

“I’d also like to be the mayor of San Jose,” he says of his future goals, which also include owning a private school and becoming a presidential speechwriter. “Three years ago that would not have come to mind. [Recently] I’ve been less afraid to think big.”

Hannah Humes
Courtesy Hannah Humes

Hannah Humes, Mason High School in Mason, Ohio

Future Plans: Vanderbilt University, where she'll attend a four-year program for students with intellectual disabilities

Hannah, who has Down syndrome, works alongside her classmates at her high school’s store, and also volunteers to help preschoolers at her local community center.

“I like inclusion, when I’m involved and participating like everyone else,” she says. “I just want opportunities.”

Shreyaa Venkat

Shreyaa Venkat, Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Virginia

Future Plans: Georgetown University to study global healthcare

Four years ago, Shreyaa and her younger sister cofounded NEST4US, a nonprofit aiming to spread kindness in the community. NEST4US has so far fed 20,000 people and provided hundreds more with back-to-school supplies, technology workshops and school tutoring.

“We don’t just feed people. We care for them,” she says. “We sit down and hear their stories. It makes them feel loved.”

Priscilla Arceo
Courtesy Priscilla Arceo

Priscilla Arceo, Santa Ana High School in Santa Ana, California

Future Plans: University of California-Santa Barbara, with hopes of becoming a teacher and writer

After discovering books as a means of escapism, Priscilla went on to volunteer with students with special needs and serve on the principal’s advisory committee to represent her fellow peers and give a voice to the voiceless.

“My story isn’t uncommon. I just want to be here to help kids who are like me and who struggle in the same way,” says Priscilla, who is graduating as valedictorian.

Matthew Yekell
Mengwen Cao

Matthew Yekell, St. John's School in Houston

Future Plans: Stanford University

After coming out to his parents as gay his sophomore year, Matthew got involved with Tony’s Place, a local LGBTQ drop-in center for homeless youth, bringing home-cooked meals and organizing a clothing drive involving 19 local schools.

“If I’m able to hand someone a meal, I feel that I’m making a difference,” he says. “I’m really grateful to have the ability and the opportunity to help.”