Alyse Williams, 16

Political and social activist

Her story: When a presidential candidate visits your home to meet his precinct captains, it might make a vague impression on an ordinary 12-year-old girl. When it is Barack Obama and the girl is energetic, ambitious and community-minded, a passion for public service is ignited. “I felt like I was the only person in the room, although the house was filled with so many people it was nearly impossible to move,” says Alyse, who was inspired that July day in 2007 to help found Nevadans 4 Obama, whose 300 members helped raise more than $178,000 through house parties and online efforts. Her work was featured in Nickelodeon’s Youth in Politics special in 2008, and she was invited to Obama’s inauguration. She helped start and is now president of the Youth Caucus for the Clark County Democratic Black Caucus and plans to do a spring fling to help homeless youth.

School: Advanced Technologies Academy, junior

Extras: An avid swimmer and a violist in the advanced orchestra at her school, Alyse studies engineering. She was selected to attend the Youth Leadership Forum on National Security in Washington, D.C., and she volunteers for Shade Tree, the Sierra Club and the Delta G.E.M.S, an organization created to “catch the dreams” of at-risk adolescent girls. In October, Alyse was one of 19 locals to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national recognition of sustained commitment to volunteer service.

What she’ll be doing in 10 years: “I hope to have received my bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and become an intern with a company to research and improve prosthetics. I would like to create my own line of prosthetics one day.” As far as politics, she added: “Laws and policy are determined by elected officials, and it’s important that we have our voices heard on health and medical laws that will help me do a better job of improving quality of life.”

What they’re saying about her: Back in the Obama campaign days, “she phone-banked, attended rallies and listened to discussions adults were having about legislation. Then she would add the component that we could only get from someone her age: What do you think about this? How do you think this affects you? … It’s amazing the growth I’ve seen in her and the leadership ability,” says Simone Simpson, adviser for the Youth Caucus.

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