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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Huian, Mariana, and Laela
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Huian, Mariana, and Laela

What is ‘Rustic Spirit’? How does one have ‘Rustic Spirit’?

There’s certain qualities and attitudes we see in Rustic Pathways students year after year. They are empathetic, creative problem solvers, community-oriented and positive impact-minded.

They inspire you and motivate you with their actions. They have a desire to help others, protect the planet, and make the world a better place.

But Rustic Spirit spans far beyond our programs and students. Young people around the world are working to create positive change in their communities.

We want to recognize and celebrate these individuals. The following change makers embody Rustic Spirit and bring the values we hold dear out into the world.

Huian Yang
Age 16
California, United States

Huian is a hard worker who stands out as a leader among his student body. He embraces community service with a positive and energetic attitude.

He is president of Valley High School’s Key Club, a club that focuses on community service and leadership skills. Huian has been involved in the club for three years and has accomplished much for both his local community and beyond. We are inspired by Huian’s dedication and ability to inspire others.

This year he has worked hard to connect the club to service events, such as park cleanups where students plant trees, pick up trash, and repaint tables. These events make shared public spaces more enjoyable and enriching for everyone in the community.

Huian wishes to have the skills to build or create anything he wants, and plans on majoring in engineering in college. He plays games in his free time and wants to pursue a career in computer or software engineering which aligns closely with his hobby.

Mariana Cardenas
Age 24
New Jersey, United States

Mariana is the graduate coordinator for the Dean of Students at Rowan University and also served as the president of the United Latinos Association on campus.

She meets with campus leaders to implement diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. This has included increasing accessibility to resources for undocumented students on campus. Mariana is taking real action on these initiatives to support and advocate for her fellow students.

As a first semester graduate student, Mariana is working towards her master’s degree in Diversity & Inclusion. She hopes to work with public health policy to end racial and gender health disparities.

Laela Torn
Age 16
California, United States

Laela started her school’s first GSA (gender sexuality alliance) club, allowing students to connect and foster friendships in a safe and fun space.

She enjoys drawing and reading, and also collects stickers! Laela plans to major in psychology or early childhood education (or both). She aspires to be either a kindergarten teacher or a middle school counselor in the future.

Laela was nominated for her passion for leadership and creating an inclusive and safe environment for all. She has worked to connect to other GSA clubs in the school’s district to expand students’ opportunities to get involved in their community and combine different club’s efforts in service projects.


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