Junior Achievement Of Central Maryland Announces Winners Of The Second Annual JA 18 Under 18 Award Program

Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Maryland, an organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy, announced today the winners of the second annual JA ‘18 Under 18’ awards program. 

The 2024 JA 18 Under 18 Awards recipients all have something in common: they’re not waiting until they’re adults to make a difference in the world. Whether it is a creative idea, a passion for helping others, or the ability to find motivation from hardship, the Class of 2024 has used their creativity, generosity, and entrepreneurial spirit to make a difference in Maryland and around the globe.

“Each year, we’re amazed by the next class of students,” said JA Central Maryland President, Paul Kappel Jr. “These full-time students advocate for causes, start non-profit organizations to help others in our community. They have spearheaded programs and organizations and work with their schools to bring innovative ideas to their peers. They all have bright futures and we are honored to have gotten to know each of them.”

This year’s class features honorees from across the state that range from 10 years old to 18 years old and represent Maryland’s flourishing diversity, and hope for a bright and promising future.

Recipients have been chosen by a diverse panel of judges in Maryland’s corporate, non-profit, community and educational sectors.

Eighth grader, Tanner Cero attends Parkville Middle School where he discovered his passion for broadcasting and mass communications. During the pandemic, Tanner understood that turning on the news could be difficult and wanted to create a space dedicated strictly to weather updates for kids and people in his community. He decided to lean into a media group he created in 2016, called TMC Weather, which now has more than 20,000 followers. His Facebook page is updated daily with live streams and breaking weather updates.

“Winning this award shows my passion for meteorology and communications, and also my passion for volunteering to teach other students,” Tanner said. “I run a special needs meteorologist group and want to help students get the extra support they need to learn.  I’m always learning from others and older students ahead of me and I want to do the same; learning new things and passing that knowledge down is important to me.”

Like Tanner, 12th grader Aarti Srinivas honed her passion for healthcare from an early age. During the pandemic, Aarti launched her non-profit, Preserving Students Health Foundation, with a goal of supporting students and their health and eliminating barriers to healthcare for students in underprivileged areas. She traveled to India and with the support of trained medical professionals and volunteers, hosted several workshops where she taught more than 400 girls about menstrual cycles, feminine health, and physicals. She even assisted with bloodwork for more than 250 students.

“This award came with a feeling of pride that my leadership and achievements are being recognized but also that I am now among 17 other students in this cohort that are equally passionate about making a difference,” Aarti said. “The 18 Under 18 award will let me make unique connections and engage with others who I wouldn’t be able to engage with on my own, something I am truly grateful for and appreciative of.”

“Community service doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture and doesn’t require you to give up other activities,” she continued. “Just like any other kid, I still play video games, hang out with my friends, and watch TV shows, but small steps can help those in need. By winning this award, I hope to inspire others to join me in taking these small steps towards creating a safe and healthy society.”

JA 18 Under 18 Awards is designed to highlight extraordinary students like Tanner and Aarti, and the 16 other Maryland students who serve as role models, leaders and innovators in their communities.

The 18 award recipients will be recognized at an event on June 5th, 2024, at the Youth Workforce and Innovation Center located at 1725 Twin Springs Rd Baltimore, MD 21227.

Click here to read more about JA’s 18 Under 18 program. To learn more about Junior Achievement and its impact on youth, workforce and the economy, click here.

About JA of Central Maryland

Junior Achievement of Central Maryland is part of the largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, JACMD provides hands-on programs that show more than 40,000 K-12 students each year the realities of how careers, money, and business ownership work. JA experiences are proven to give students the edge in college completion, career readiness, earning potential, and business start-up. For more information, visit jamaryland.org.