YOU(th) Yearbook, Featuring Nike Chicago

At Chicago Ideas, we couldn’t be more proud of the incredible students in our YOU(th) program, and Nike Chicago recently partnered with us to celebrate their growth and accomplishments. In a year of empowerment, growth and connection, the 2017 YOU(th) Ambassadors worked hard. Not only did they lead more than 1,200 CPS high school students who participated in Chicago Ideas Week this October, they worked on their professional and networking skills and their own personal growth.


At our year-end celebration, they got more than just awards. With the help of Chicago-based artist and designer Louis De Guzman, they incorporated their growth as Ambassadors into designing their own Nike AF-1 shoes using NikeiD. “These kids truly continue to inspire this city and myself, for their brilliant and creative minds have the power to shift the positive change we gradually continue to reach today and for the future in our community and beyond,” De Guzman said. Here’s a video of the electrifying night (thanks to Mike Sager and Kevin Gabrielson for capturing our students in their element), along with the awards presented to each of our Ambassadors. Congrats!


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Deja Burrell, the winner of the Most Adventurous Award, is always willing to try and learn new things.

Brandon Chavez, who won the Inventive and Imaginative Award, thinks very thematically when it comes to planning events such as the Chicago Ideas Week kick-off, brainstorming new ideas for the Edison Talks and Labs, and more. He always has ideas for how to grow the Chicago Ideas brand.

Jossalyn Coppens won the Voice of the People Award. She’s very opinionated, and we love that because she’s a true ambassador of Chicago Ideas and loves to contribute to the growth of the program.

Ben Dweh, who won the Most Business-Oriented Award, is always thinking about how he can grow and develop professionally. We admire him for his incredible initiative at such a young age.

David Emerson, winner of the Life of the Party Award, works to make sure that everyone in the group is enjoying themselves. He makes everyone feel included and is quick to make everyone laugh.

Markyse Favor, who who the Most Spirited Award, is always in a great mood, making others smile. He attends as many events as he can and always does it with his infectious smile.

Arrielle Hobson won our Shining Star Award. Our very own Oprah Winfrey, she always rises to the occasion—even at an event when her cards had the wrong questions, she was able to listen and improvise to make it work.

Joana Hunt was the winner of our Renaissance Woman Award—she has tons of talents including dancing, singing, and sports.

DeMarco King won our The Main Event Award because he has a keen eye for production, helping set the stage and determine production needs at Ideas Day.

Christopher Lee, winner of our Most Dedicated Award, has grown tremendously over the last year. He attends every meeting and is committed to sharing the mission of Chicago Ideas YOU(th).

Olivia Lucaciu, who won our Collaborative Creativity Award, always contributes. She works well with others, always willing and able to give input.

Melissa Nunez won our Leaps and Bounds Award for making several strides in terms of speaking in front of people and getting to know others, both within and outside of the Ambassador Program.

Javaontay Peoples was the winner of our Most Reliable Award for being the first to volunteer to take on new challenges and always working hard. This year, he interviewed Xiuhtezcatl Martinez at the Edison Talks and we knew what an amazing job he would do before he even stepped foot on stage!  

Martin Salazar won the Confidence & Congeniality Award. He has a very kind, bubbly spirit and is confident when speaking in front of or to others.

Erica Seals, winner of our Trendsetter Award, has set the tone for going to college—remaining an active Ambassador even through tough times.

Stavros Short, who won our People’s Champ Award, gets along with everyone really well. His peers love hanging out with him and he’s always making others laugh.

Misael Soto won our Team Captain Award for being a true leader amongst other Ambassadors. He encourages other Ambassadors to contribute at a high level, and has contributed to Chicago Ideas Week in the Ambassador Program and outside of it.

Ambraham Valle, winner of our Most Inquisitive Award, has taught himself several things within the tech space, and fuels us with his questions in regards to Chicago Ideas events and experiences.

Thank you to all our amazing Ambassadors! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish in 2018 and beyond!

Jennifer Boudinot is a freelance writer and entrepreneur focused on the changing workplace, disruptive business practices and cocktails—yes, cocktails. She's also a book editor and a best-selling ghostwriter.

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