A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.
And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.
This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.
For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.
Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.
Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”
That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.
Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.
Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.
“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”
Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
She didn’t want the girl to “ruin” her photos of the trip.
A 42-year-old mother wondered whether she did the right thing by disciplining her 18-year-old daughter, Abby, who disinvited a friend from vacation because of her weight. The mother asked people on Reddit for their opinion.
For some background, Abby had struggled with her weight for many years, so she went to her mother for help. The two set up a program where Abby was given a reward for every milestone she achieved.
“Four months ago, she asked that I don't get her any more rewards and add it up to her birthday gift, and for her gift she wants a vacation I will pay for, for her and her friends instead of the huge party I had promised for her 18th. I said OK,” the mother wrote.
So, instead of a series of small gifts, Abbey wanted one large one, a vacation with two of her friends. The vacation would also celebrate Abby’s 18th birthday. The mother agreed and booked the trip for the 3 girls.
“Fast forward to last weekend, we started preparing for her vacation,” the mother wrote. “I called the other two girls' parents to confirm the girls would be and learned Abby's best friend Betty isn't going. Betty loves traveling and was looking forward to the vacation, so I asked why. Apparently, Abby uninvited her because ‘she is too chubby to look good in pictures.’”
When the mother approached Abby about the situation, she doubled down on her comments to Betty. “I calmly talked to Abby and reminded her how Betty would feel being left out for such a reason, and she went off with, 'I didn't work so hard for this vacation so my pictures will be ruined,'" the mother wrote.
Abby then asked Betty to contact her mom and say that she decided not to go on the trip because she wasn’t feeling well. Betty refused to lie, and Abby sent her a “ton of hateful texts and body-shaming insults.” Betty shared screenshots of the texts to the mother, and she promptly canceled the entire vacation.
Now, Abby’s father, who shares 50-50 custody with the mother, is livid, and Abby won’t speak to the mother. The mom asked the Reddit AITA forum to see if she was in the wrong, and the commenters overwhelmingly said she did the right thing. "Some of my friends agree on my approach, while others think I should have put my daughter first,” the mother said.
The most popular commenter was short and to the point.
"Teaching your daughter to not be a horrible human being IS putting her first," Due_Laugh_3851 wrote. "I commend your strength and parenting skills. This was the right thing to do and would've been hard to do. Well done, you deserve to go on the holiday yourself," Loud_Wallaby737 added.
"... uninviting someone because you only want skinny people in your pictures is a disgusting attitude frankly. Sorry, I just don't find a nicer word for it. I am totally with you that this needs to have consequences, and while I'm very much against breaking promises, I do believe this is an exception. Like you said, your daughter knows what it feels like. She (but anyone really) should be supportive of friends wanting to lose weight if that is the case and if it isn't they she should just mind her own
business body," SensitiveSires wrote.
One of the few people who thought she was in the wrong believed that the mother set her daughter up for failure.
"[You're wrong] for giving your daughter who is a child rewards for weight loss. Her behavior of value based on weight shows she likely has developed disordered eating patterns and attitudes and this will cause her a lifetime of pain," tamtheprogram wrote.
The silver lining to the story is that many people who commented said that even though her daughter did something very hurtful, she’s still a teenager and there’s a chance she’ll realize the error of her ways.
"The daughter is just a teenager, she still has a lot of time to learn and grow up. Writing off her entire future as a mean girl when it’s very rare to be the same exact person you were at 18 as you grow up is a lot," Stephapeaz wrote.
"This thing has been cycling 10,000 cycles and it’s still going."
There's an old saying that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.
There's no better example of that than a 2016 discovery at the University of California, Irvine, by doctoral student Mya Le Thai. After playing around in the lab, she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that could last up to 400 years. That means longer-lasting laptops and smartphones and fewer lithium ion batteries piling up in landfills.
A team of researchers at UCI had been experimenting with nanowires for potential use in batteries, but found that over time the thin, fragile wires would break down and crack after too many charging cycles. A charge cycle is when a battery goes from completely full to completely empty and back to full again.
But one day, on a whim, Thai coated a set of gold nanowires in manganese dioxide and a Plexiglas-like electrolyte gel.
"She started to cycle these gel capacitors, and that's when we got the surprise," said Reginald Penner, chair of the university's chemistry department. "She said, 'this thing has been cycling 10,000 cycles and it's still going.' She came back a few days later and said 'it's been cycling for 30,000 cycles.' That kept going on for a month."
This discovery is mind-blowing because the average laptop battery lasts 300 to 500 charge cycles. The nanobattery developed at UCI made it though 200,000 cycles in three months. That would extend the life of the average laptop battery by about 400 years. The rest of the device would have probably gone kaput decades before the battery, but the implications for a battery that that lasts hundreds of years are pretty startling.
"The big picture is that there may be a very simple way to stabilize nanowires of the type that we studied," Penner said. "If this turns out to be generally true, it would be a great advance for the community." Not bad for just fooling around in the laboratory.
This article originally appeared 12.22.22
Her haunting performance is a must-see.
Dance is a unique art form in that the medium it utilizes is the human body itself. Simply through purposeful and graceful control of movement, dancers can express and evoke joy, sadness, fear, confusion—the whole range of human emotion. And when dancing is done well, it's utterly mesmerizing.
Such is the case with Mariandrea, a 14-year-old from Mexico who auditioned for America's Got Talent in July of 2023 and wowed both the judges and the audience with her dance performance. She has been dancing since she was 5, and as Simon Cowell pointed out, it's clear that she was born to do this.
After showing off her sparkling personality during the pre-performance interview, Mariandrea danced to a cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World," personifying the song in her performance. But it wasn't just her intentional movement that reflected the emotional complexity of the ever-popular hit. Her facial expressions, ranging from subtle fear to a clown-like smile to genuine sorrow to angry defiance, change on a dime, adding an acting element to her routine that takes it to the next level.
Add in the incredible control she has of her body as it twists and turns and seems to defy gravity, both gracefully flowing and disturbingly contorting, and it's easy to see why she earned a standing ovation and enthusiastic praise from all four judges.
For someone so young to have such a strong grasp of her craft is quite extraordinary, and people were wowed by her talent as well as her showmanship.
"I had to watch this more than once. Her smile, energy, and face reminds me of a young Natalie Portman. You can tell she is more than a dancer also, very intelligent, expressive, talented, yes acting too. Wow! Congratulations!" shared one commenter.
"This young lady has a very bright future ahead of her! The passion that she emanated while dancing was above and beyond what we have seen in half the dancers that are older than her... Can't wait to see what she does next!!!" wrote another.
"Stunned. I would have given her a golden buzzer. The sharpness, flexibility, timing, theatrics, and costume use. 10/10," shared another.
One commenter pointed out that her dance felt like a monologue, and another person called it "absolute art." Many people expressed disappointment that she didn't receive the Golden Buzzer, which would propel her immediately to the final round. But if her other performances are anything like this one, she's got a pretty decent chance of making it to the finals without it.
12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.
In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.
In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.
One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.
The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.
16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.
Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.
The first deposit of orange peels in 1996.
Photo by Dan Janzen.
"It's a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.
When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."
The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R).
"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.
The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.
Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.
The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area's turnaround.
The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.
Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot.
In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.
"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."
Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.
In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.
Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.
In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.
Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.
The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998.
Photo by Dan Janzen.
"We don't want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it's scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.
The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.
Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.
Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.
In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper's senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area's transformation became truly clear.
The sign after clearing away the vines.
Photo by Tim Treuer.
"It's a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.
19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.
This article originally appeared on 08.23.17
Who was this stranger, and what did they know?
Lake Fontana, A Brooklyn-based TikTokker, received a text message from a stranger in January of 2022, and it completely upended what she knew about her family. But it also taught her an important lesson about the relationships that matter in life.
“About a year ago now, on January 9, I got a text message telling me to get a DNA test from Ancestry, and I think it’s fake,” she shared on TikTok. “I FaceTime my friend, and I’m like, ‘Listen to this.’ And she’s like, ‘I swear my gut is telling me this is real. You need to respond.’”
The mystery person who reached out to Lane also made a burner Facebook account and reached out to her on that platform as well. “You have other family you might not be aware of,’” the mystery person texted her.
To learn the truth, Lane reached out to her mother. She admitted that the man who raised her wasn’t her father. It was a man that she knew briefly in college when she was 35. “I almost fell off my f**king chair,” Lane explained. “She had an affair with a guy ten years younger than her when she was in college. ‘It was a one-time thing, but he even saw her on campus and said, ‘Is that mine?’ and she denied it.”
Then Lane received the results from Ancestry and learned the truth: her father was a British man who lives in California. The “mystery person” who reached out to her was his nephew.
Lane’s biological father had attempted to get in touch with Lane over the years but was threatened by her mother. “So what did he do? He followed me on social media my entire life. He watched me date my boyfriend, get married, have babies, everything. All from the outside. Not able to know me,” she said.
The biological father longed to hear her voice, so he called the salon where she works to ask the hours and then hung up. He wanted to fly out and get his haircut by her, but his wife was against it because, given their resemblance, she might figure things out pretty quickly.
Lane and her biological father finally met and spent 5 days together, but things didn’t go as she hoped.
Replying to @rykoda #foryoupage #fyp #ancestrydnatestresults #dnaresults #storytime #viral
“Coming from a broken family, there's like this hole inside of me. I guess like was hoping that he was gonna fix me and I really tried to go into it with like an open mind and low expectations,” she said in a TikTok video. “I felt like he was not interested in what I had to say. I felt like I was stupid. I felt like he didn't like me,” she continued. “I mean, I'm a very warm, talkative, funny, goofy person and he is not like that. So it could just be who he is. He could even be just trying to respect me as an adult. But, um, our interactions left me feeling very confused and very invalidated.”
The confusion with meeting her biological father made her relationship with the man who raised her seem even more important.
“Between him and I not a lot changes, like, that's still my dad,” she said. “I'm still his daughter. My kids are still his grandkids. You know, like, he Facetimes my son every day. My son's named after him. Like, I have his signature on the back of my neck. That's my dad.”
Lane is taking her relationship with the man she calls her “Biodad” in stride. But after all the changes in her life, she’s happy to know the truth. “I'm just taking it at my own pace,” she said. “I just feel like I have 2 dads now, which is a good thing. The more, the merrier.”
Replying to @ashleey.victoria
The woman paid $25 for a gown designed by the same person that designed gowns for Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez.
Weddings are expensive so, many brides look for ways to cut corners where they can. Designer wedding dresses can cost more than a nice used car so any sort of sale or thrift store find can significantly boost your budget for other things. Emmali Osterhoudt came across a deal so good on a wedding gown that she bought it immediately, even though she doesn't have a fiancé.
It was too good of a deal to pass up at $25 when the original tag (still on the dress) read $6,200. The fact that the dress fit like a glove right off of the Goodwill rack makes not having someone to stand at the end of the aisle a mere technicality. Osterhoudt didn't want to keep her find a secret, she uploaded a video of her future wedding dress to TikTok where it went viral.
The unbetrothed woman's post generated more than 3.5 million views and caught the eye of the dress's designer, Galia Lahav.
If you're into celebrity news, including all the details of their big day, then you've likely come across Lahav's name. She's designed dresses for Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Paris Hilton, according to Good Morning America. The dress is truly an incredible find on a day that Osterhoudt likely would've considered a bust, since she revealed in a follow up video that she used to answer people's questions, she wasn't having luck at that particular Goodwill.
"This Goodwill is in Birmingham, Alabama, in the Green Springs area and it had nothing. It had nothing but the dress," Osterhoudt laughs. "I had gone in just to look at some picture frames for a gallery wall and I did. I had already checked out."
Answer some of the Galia Lahav dress questions with me!!! 🏼🏼 #goodwill #goodwillfinds #galialahav #weddingdress
But on her way out she noticed a section they didn't go through, so she went back to look. That's where she found the beautiful designer gown, which luckily for other brides won't be the only Lahav gown to hang on Goodwill racks. People received a press release from the designer revealing her plan to work with Goodwills across the country to donate wedding gowns.
"It's a reminder that sometimes, life's surprises can be as beautiful as the dress itself," Galia Lahav said according to People.
Im so freaking excited about this find, i may not even use it when it comes to the day because im not getting engaged or married for awhile but maybe its fate lol also jlo has worn this brand as well #galialahav #galialahavbride #goodwill #weddingdress @Galia Lahav
Under the original video, people are flabbergasted by the woman's thrifting find.
"As someone who has worked in bridal for 9 years and still has never seen a Galia Lahav in person, my jaw is on the FLOOR. The find of a LIFETIME," one woman writes.
"We literally sell this dress where I work for $6800 20/10 find," another person says.
"You had me at $25 designer wedding dress. A $6,175 save. To add it looks stunning on you, like it was made for you," someone writes.
There's no telling what you'll find at the Goodwill, it can be anything from used salt and pepper shakers with little monetary value or a sculpted bust that turns out to be priceless. But thanks to Osterhoudt's viral find, brides to be across America will soon be able to scour their local Goodwills to find a buried treasure left by the designer herself.