Receiving this award will be the start of my next chapter in life and the world.

Attending: Science Leadership Academy, Center City Campus
Award Use: TBD
Travel Stipend Use: TBD

Georjelis Rujano came to the U.S. from Venezuela with her mother when she was seven, leaving most of her family behind—including her grandmother.

In the month when she was to visit the U.S. for the first time, her grandmother experienced a fatal cardiac arrest. This life-changing moment for Georjelis and her family led to another for Georjelis alone. When she flew back to Venezuela to see her grandfather and other family, she also saw Venezuela’s current economic turmoil.

Witnessing people deprived of food, safety, medical care, and basic necessities didn’t leave Georjelis feeling helpless. It motivated her. She came home and created a foundation that would deliver clothes, toys, and other support to Venezuela: La Luz De Aurora (The Light of Aurora). Her next steps—holding bake sales at her high school, Science Leadership Academy, and filing for a federal tax ID—resulted in 12 boxes shipped to Venezuela by the end of her junior year. Then, over the summer, she pitched her foundation at Rebel Ventures Youth Entrepreneurship Expo. Now, as she enters senior year, she’s contemplating how to design a senior capstone project that allows her to expand her foundation and further benefit her birth country.

As a senior, Georjelis is also thinking about college. She’s most excited about being paired with a JMB Award mentor who can help her tackle this bewildering process.

For press on Georjelis and other awardees >>

Photo by Ellery Schiller