Our community is filled with many incredible young people doing such amazing things. Each of the students in this issue have been chosen as this year’s SRQ Magazine’s Outstanding Youth Leaders based on their values, determination and outstanding achievements in various aspects of their lives in and out of school. A special thank you to the nonprofit community partners who shared the stories of many of their young ambassadors with us as part of the program including The Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and Desoto Counties, Suncoast Science Center/Fab Lab, Girl Scouts of the Gulfcoast, Girls Inc., and Girls and Boys Clubs of Manatee County.


Natalie, an 11th grade student at Out of Door Academy began volunteering at the Fab Lab for summer camp support in 2020. When the opportunity arose to be at the front of the class and develop and teach her own hands-on STEAM classes, she took it and joined the SPEC (Student Projects & Education Committee). Since 2021, she has developed and led over 10 classes and camps. She also mentors junior instructors so they can build experience and confidence to lead their own classes. Natalie is incredibly passionate about girls in STEAM and is helping develop outreach programming to expose more underserved girls to the possibilities within science, technology, engineering, art and math. Natalie also serves on the RC Car Executive Committee where she helps plan all aspects of the Fab Lab’s annual remote control car competition for K-12 students. In summer 2022, Natalie elevated her leadership role by serving as a summer intern, helping facilitate and manage several Fab Lab programs.

What inspires you to be a leader amongst your peers? I love bringing out the best in people. Leading a team allows me to identify people’s strengths and help them reach their full potential. Honestly though, I don’t think about trying to be a leader amongst my peers very often. What’s satisfying about being a leader isn’t the leading in and of itself, but rather the work you do and the change that comes from it. I think the best leaders are those without a desire to lead, but a desire to improve their community.


A college bound senior at Southeast High School, Taylor is an Ambassador in Girl Scouts (which is the highest level) and is working on her Gold Award with them as a community service project. She is Co-Captain of the Nolettes Dance and Auxiliary Dance Team.

Who is your role model and why? My role model is my mother, seeing her accomplish everything and the hard work and dedication she puts into everything shows me that I can do it too! My goal is to graduate college with a bachelors degree and to be successful in whatever I do.


Diego, a senior at Pine View School, joined the Fab Lab in his sophomore year at the urging of his friend who was a current volunteer. He has taken part in a variety of programs, including the RC Car Committee, the Student Proposals and Education Committee (SPEC), and the Student Community Innovation Project (SCIP). Outside of school and the Fab Lab, he enjoys playing frisbee and soccer as well as working on engineering projects for the fun of it. This past year he served as the Team Captain of his high school robotics team, Jungle Robotics, and after a year of not meeting due to COVID-19, they came back stronger than ever and won the Judge’s Award for their robot design. Diego spends much of his time mentoring younger volunteers so they will be equipped to continue the legacy he helped build. Diego was also part of the inaugural Student Community Innovation Program class in 2020 where he helped build an educational website teaching elementary school students about COVID-19 safety.
What are your goals for the future? My goal is to become a mechanical engineer working around the world and not in one consistent place. That may be a bold dream, but I’ve always been one to enjoy traveling and not staying stationary in a specific location. I want to get out there and see the world and do the things that I love like engineering and frisbee and making friends and being spontaneous. I hope to establish new friendships along the way while keeping my old ones and to leave impacts on the communities that I visit, create, and learn from.


Miranda is an eighth grade student at Sarasota Middle School who is involved in both basketball and track. She has been at Girls Inc. since kindergarten and is a 2019 recipient of Girls Inc.’s She Knows Where She is Growing award.

What inspires you to be a leader amongst your peers? What inspires me is my desire to better myself by creating an environment where my peers and I can challenge each other to learn and grow. When I see my peers struggle in any way, be it intellectually, physically, or emotionally, I want to try my best to help them in any way I can, by helping them myself or pointing them in the right direction to help them help themselves.


Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County recently named Isabel F., a senior at Bayshore High School, as the organization’s 2022-23 Youth of the Year Representative. Isabel is passionate about helping others, especially the homeless.

What is one of your goals for the future? My goal is to further my education and go to college for dentistry, with aspirations of becoming an orthodontist. I want to be successful at whatever I do and make my family proud. As well as continuing to help others around me in need.


Lillie is an eighth-grader at Brookside Middle School. She puts her knowledge to the test as a participant on her school’s robotics team. Aside from academics, she is also involved in rowing. Lillie has been at Girls Inc. since 2016.

Tell us about your inspiration to be a role model and your goals for the future. I try to be a leader because I had a leader that showed me right from wrong and it helped me a lot. I want to be that for others. My role models are the people who never give up no matter what. My goal for the future is to do well in rowing and to never give up on engineering.


Bernadette is the 2022 Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties’ Youth of the Year. Enrolled in Riverview High School’s International Baccalaureate Program where she is in the top 4% of her class, Bernadette manages a busy schedule as President of National Honor Society and Speech & Debate and Vice President of Papillon Club. In 2021, Bernadette was given a letter of Commendation for the National Merit Scholarship Program and was honored with the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award. This year, Bernadette was named a Coca-Cola National Scholar and was honored with the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. Through her work with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Bernadette founded her own non-profit, SHARE Wholeness, to address the prevalence of food deserts in Sarasota County. She would go on to draft SB 1450 and HB 1311 to address policy change on this issue; both bills have secured bipartisan support in Tallahassee.

What is one of your goals for the future? I hope to be in a position to empower others the way the community has empowered me. Hopefully that will be somewhere in the fields of either healthcare or law. I’m grateful to be in this position because I want to be a beacon of light for others who may be struggling. I want them to know that they can direct their own lives. It doesn’t have to be directed by others.


Last fall, Quinn earned her Cambridge AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) Diploma through her studies at Sarasota High School, where she is a current Senior in the top 10% of her class. A proud member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties, Quinn serves on behalf of The Club as the STAR Youth Leader for the Sarasota County Human Services Advisory Council. Quinn is President of La Sertoa Female Leadership Club, the Vice President of Student Government, a member of National Honor Society and the Science National Honors Society, has been inducted into Rho Kappa. She has also participated in the Florida House of Representatives Messenger Program and is an active volunteer in Sarasota County. In 2020, Quinn took first place at the Engineering Regional Stem Fair and received the Yale Science and Engineering Association Award and the Florida Power & Light Excellence in Engineering Award. Quinn will attend Barnard College in the fall.

Who is your role model and why? My role model is my grandmother who was a nurse. She wanted to attend Barnard but was unable to pursue that dream due to her personal circumstances. I will be attending Barnard in the fall with the ultimate goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist. Having spent some time at Seattle Children’s Hospital, I was able to see the way doctors work with children. It was inspiring and I’d like to be able to do that for children one day.


Nathan is currently a Junior at Pine View School for the Gifted. He first joined the Boys & Girls Club to pursue his passion for cooking. He then went on to receive funding to launch his own catering business through his participation in Boys & Girls Club’s Perlman Price Young Entrepreneurs Program. In 2021, Nathan joined Boys & Girls Club’s Youth Council and in 2022 he joined BGCSDC as they traveled to Tallahassee for the Florida House of Representatives Messenger Program.

What inspires you to be a leader? The Boys and Girls Clubs inspires me. I came there to become a leader and it taught me how to be one. I originally wanted to show up for the entrepreneurship program but I’ve stayed for advocacy and youth council and everything it has to offer. The club and the staff inspire me daily.


Akiel is a current junior at Sarasota Military Academy. He joined the Boys & Girls Club to deepen his involvement with the community and to make a difference. An active participant in volunteer programs, Akiel has witnessed firsthand the difference a group of driven teens can make within their community. Akiel is currently enrolled in BGCSDC’s STAR Leadership Training Program and is an active member of Youth Council.

What is one of your goals for the future? After graduating, I’d like to go to the University of Florida or the U.S. Military Academy. After that, I hope to go to law school. My top pick would be Yale or Harvard. I would like to become a JAG (Judge Advocate General) lawyer. I’ve worked pretty hard throughout high school to get where I’m at so being nominated as a leader means so much to me.


Abigail is a senior at Sarasota Military Academy where she served as Regimental Commander of a unit of approximately 700 cadets. This spring she completed her Girl Scout Gold Award which focused on helping teens with stress management. She is involved in her local Boys & Girls Club and is a board member of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. Abigail looks forward to studying mechanical engineering at the University of Florida starting this coming year.

Who is your role model? My role model is NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli. Her story resonates with me as she has a military background and she is a part of NASA’s upcoming Artemis mission. This will make her one of, if not the first woman to visit the moon. Her perseverance and commitment to each thing she does inspires me to bring a similar determination to each thing that I do. SRQ