Graduate's funny and touching virtual commencement speech won first prize in global competition
via GreaterGood / YouTube

April Judd, 19, from Quebec, Canada won first price in Greater Good's Girls' Voices at Home Class of 2020 Challenge with a virtual commencement speech on the theme "How the coronavirus affected my final semester."

The contest was open to high school and college seniors and received 379 submissions from girls in 49 different countries.

In her submission, Judd bemoans the fact that she didn't get to put on her final stage production or say goodbye to some friends she may never see again. She also discusses the challenge of moving in with her parents after being gone for two years.

However, during the pandemic she had a powerful change in her mindset that's inspired her to move forward in a bold way.

"I don't want to go back to the way things were," she says. "I want to have a heightened appreciation for all the things that make life full."

April wants to be someone who finds beauty even the "less favorable hands that life deals us." She ends the video with an empowering message for her fellow graduates, "We got this."

April from Shawville, Quebec


If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.