Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Neil, Cydney and Bryan
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Neil, Cydney and Bryan

In Rustic Spirit Spotlights we highlight young people around the world who are creating positive change in their communities. This week we are featuring high school students who are volunteering their time to their community or have founded amazing organizations.

These awesome teens are uplifting others, helping people in need, protecting the environment, and bettering their communities. We are honored to recognize them!

Neil Chakravarty
Age 16
Granada Hills Charter High School
California, United States

Neil is the founder of I Spy Stories, an organization that empowers people to make a positive impact in their community through verbal and non-verbal communication. In 2020, when the world faced isolation due to COVID-19, Neil founded the organization to bring his fellow students together and help others.

Since then, I Spy Stories has done many things to positively impact the community. They have organized several community service events, including two blanket drives and care package distribution to displaced people in the San Fernando Valley. The funds for the care packages were raised through recycling drives.

When in-person gatherings were not possible, I Spy Stories hosted virtual events, often with expert speakers on topics like storytelling, public speaking and how to handle difficult conversations. Last summer team members did over 300 random acts of kindness in 50 days. I Spy Stories hosted events around September 11th to collect snacks for local firefighters and also wrote letters to US military personnel stationed overseas.

Neil enjoys spending time with friends and coding. He plans to major in computer science to pursue a career in the field of entertainment technology.

Impact advice: Find an area in which you genuinely want to make a difference, and follow through without quitting.

Cydney Brown
Age 18
Abington Friends School
Pennsylvania, United States

Cydney has always seen the importance of taking charge and being a leader. In 2020 she decided to step up and make change happen so she created Project G.O.O.D. (Girls Overcome Obstacles Daily) – a mentoring program for middle and high school girls to connect. The program shares information on a positive body image, how to communicate feelings and needs, healthy habits, and ways to cope with and find solutions to difficult situations.

She set out to start the program after dealing with low self-esteem and taking a workshop with Girl Scouts that taught her how to love herself. Cydney’s mission is to help girls grow into their full potential, because as soon as she realized how to love herself, she wanted to share what she learned with others.

As founder, she is a mentor, and also trains girls to lead meetings, collaborates with schools and other organizations, and schedules guest speakers for meetings. Leading a group has shown Cydney how important it is to be a role model because young girls want guidance and the ability to change the world.

For fun, Cydney enjoys writing and performing poetry, going on hikes with her family, and bowling. She is the 2020-2021 Youth Poet Laureate of Philadelphia and has been featured in The New York Times!

Cydney loves telling stories and connecting with others. This is why she plans on majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Poetry. Her dream job is to be a Creative Director. This role would allow Cydney to use her creative poetic brain to create ideas for advertising campaigns. She would be able to utilize her skills and background to highlight underrepresented communities, and help her team design concepts that promote inclusivity and diversity.

Impact advice: You can make a difference right now, you don’t have to wait for an opportunity to come your way–be the opportunity. Find a problem, create steps to solve it, reach out to people in your community who want to help, and make change happen.

Bryan Gutierrez
Age 17
Lovington High School
New Mexico, United States

Bryan helps in his community by volunteering weekly in youth group meetings and coaching 12-year-olds in basketball – giving advice to the kids as they start to grow up. He also tries to give the underclassmen on the football team advice as they grow too. He hopes this will help lead to great captains on the high school football program in the future.

In his free time, Bryan spends quality time with his loved ones. He enjoys going to the gym, playing any type of sport and going to church. Although he feels he’s not the best singer, Bryan loves to sing with friends and siblings whenever there are gatherings.

Bryan plans to major in kinesiology exercise science to become an athletic trainer and help those who get injured. He aspires to one day be a physical therapist.

Impact advice: Always be positive and humble. Give off good energy and helpful advice to others around you. Push others to be great at any little thing they do. Also, at least compliment a person a day! You never know the impact you can make by being kind to others.

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.