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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: John, Sarah, and Walter
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: John, Sarah, and Walter

Who has ‘Rustic Spirit’? And more importantly, what is ‘Rustic Spirit’?

Rustic Spirit is opening your heart to others. Having empathy. Thinking outside yourself with a larger perspective.

Those who have Rustic Spirit aim to better their communities. They are positive impact-minded and try to solve issues they see in the world.

Students who come back from Rustic Pathways programs take this spirit back into the world with them. But we also see Rustic Spirit in young people everywhere.

We want to recognize and celebrate these individuals that are working to help others, protect our planet and make the world a better place.

The following young change makers embody Rustic Spirit and we are honored to recognize them.

John Huynh
Age 17
Balboa High School
California, United States

John cares deeply about others and goes above and beyond to make a difference. As a leading member of the Student Government, he has contributed to many projects at his high school. He is particularly proud of his contributions to creating month-long mental health workshops. John led one of the workshops and spoke about a topic he is passionate about – “Healing from Sexual Assault”.

He also leads his own projects to advocate for inclusivity. He is working with his school administration to add more unisex restrooms. John also runs his own LGBTQIA+ virtual support group to create a more welcoming environments for queer and trans students.

John also volunteers for the American Red Cross through his school’s chapter, having a personal connection to the cause when his home burned down in 2019. John participates in community outreach events to educate others on fire safety and home fire preparation.

He is a leader and a member of the Communications Committee through the Stanford REACH Lab Youth Action Board (YAB) where he advocates for smoking prevention and provides quitting resources to those in need.

In his free time John enjoys cooking gluten-free meals, thrifting, spending time with family and friends, and traveling. He aspires to become an entrepreneur and aims to continue making a positive impact with a future enterprise.

Impact advice: Believe in yourself–your voice and actions are powerful and can truly make a difference in today’s world!

Sarah Lisanti
Age 16
Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School
California, United States

Sarah is a bright light in her community, showing love and empathy to all. She is President of the We Community Service Club at Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School, a Girl Scout, member of Saint Joseph Basilica Outreach Ministry, and serves in Saint Vincent de Paul dining room to prepare free hot meals.

Through these different programs, Sarah helps plan and lead hands-on service projects. Some projects Sarah has contributed include a beach clean up, beautifying the community, creating care kits for children in the hospital, and writing letters of gratitude to essential workers. Currently, her Girl Scout troop is making hammocks for kittens in the animal shelter.

In her free time Sarah loves hiking, baking, and hanging out with her friends. She plans to major in nursing and dreams of serving as a nurse to provide medical care to underserved communities.

Impact advice: Start with the small things, learn from others, and never forget your intention.

Walter Griffin
Age 17
Adrian High School
United States

Walter stands out as a student leader with a great attitude who encourages and lifts his teammates and classmates. He is on the Adrian Student Body which helps plan community assemblies and leadership activities. Walter also participates in Adrian’s Leadership class which helps organize school activities and works to keep the school a positive place.

He loves playing sports and is the team leader of the school’s football team. Walter plans to major in medicine and aspires to be a physician assistant or a certified nurse anesthetist.

Impact advice: Make posters or flyers and spread the word. Eventually people will notice what you care about and start taking an interest in it. Get involved with every activity you can and stay busy. Ask your principal if you can share a short message at the next school assembly if you want to get the word out!


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