Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Faduma, Ryan and Emma
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Faduma, Ryan and Emma

Our collection of Rustic Spirit Spotlights highlight the incredible leadership of young people who are working hard to make a difference in the world. They’re showing others that it’s possible to create real change. Read on to learn more about these incredible individuals.

Faduma Ali
Age 17
Roosevelt High School
Minneapolis, Minnesota

For many years, Faduma waited for people to speak up about issues in her community, but found many decided to stay silent. She realized if she didn’t start speaking up about these issues and holding space for others to share their experiences, who would?

Today, Faduma has become an advocate and voice for many. She attends protests, walk-outs, and uses her Instagram page to educate others about community issues, as well as topics such as FGM, famine, drought and war.

Faduma intends to major in forensic psychology or pre-medicine and become an emergency department doctor in the future. She loves to read books, and paint in her free time.

Faduma says if you fail at something, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up–keep trying!

Ryan Blagg
Age 17
McCook Central High School
Salem, South Dakota

Through Future Farmers of America, Ryan assisted in planning the Sharing Tree project and the distribution of gifts. The sharing tree is a program to ensure underprivileged students receive gifts over the holiday season.

Now that the project is complete, Ryan helps with the backpack program which ensures that students from low-income families have food over the weekends and school supplies throughout the school year. Ryan makes bags of food to give out to students on a weekly basis, and enjoys helping people and giving back to the community that does so much for him.

Ryan plans on attending Kansas State University to major in animal science. He’d like to become a monogastric nutritionist, which means animals with one stomach, and focus on poultry. Since he’s very involved with 4-H and FFA, Ryan spends his summers and falls traveling to different shows and judging contests. He also works for a farm just outside of Salem.

Ryan advises other students who want to make an impact to find a group and don’t be afraid to volunteer. Everyone is busy with their lives, but once you finish a project, the feeling of helping someone is as good as any.

Emma Coleman
Age 18
Sullivan East High School
Piney Flats, Tennessee

Emma has been a HOSA (Future Health Professionals) president for the last three years and is very active in community service, leading many other members to participate. In December, she led the service project with a local nursing home. She ‘adopted’ a grandparent and coordinated many students showering the resident with gifts–so many were donated that the nursing home was able to share with other residents!

Two times a year Emma plans and organizes a blood drive that her school hosts with the local blood bank. The last had 64 donors which will impact up to 192 local residents. Also at school, Emma participates in campus clean ups, mentors new students and helps with the Veterans Day program. Outside of school she volunteers with local hospitals, chiropractic offices and a local church.

After majoring in nursing, Emma intends to become a family nurse practitioner, return to the rural area that she currently lives, serve underprivileged individuals in the community, and mentor younger students. She also plans to be an advocate for bringing an end to the opioid crisis that’s impacting her community. For fun, Emma enjoys watching baseball games, baking, spending time outside and with family, traveling and playing with her two pet ducks.

Emma advises other students to always stay active in the community and to always just be yourself no matter what other people say or do. It’s also important to take time and breathe every now and then; take a break when you become overwhelmed.

Nominate a Student

Do you know a student doing valuable work that deserves to be recognized? Nominate them here! Are you making an impact? Tell us about your work here.

Make Change

Interested in creating change in your community? Check out our guide and learn how to make an impact as a student.

At Rustic Pathways, our goal is to make positive contributions to the communities we visit through responsible travel operations and community service projects that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.