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Sponsor profiles One of the great discussion topics centers on the question, “Are leaders made or born?” And while there are many opinions on the subject, most will tell you that the answer is “yes” to the question. Recent studies indicate that 80% of leadership is learned, that 10% is one’s DNA and that the remaining 10% (which outweighs the other 90%) is one’s attitude. At Owens & Minor, we are big believers in mentoring not only our teammates, but the communities we serve. Mentoring, to us, is sharing information, giving people the freedom to express themselves, not being afraid to stick our necks out and

When you were a child or young adult, was there someone in your life—a teacher, neighbor, relative, coach, friend, or boss— who encouraged you, showed you the ropes and helped you become who you are today? That person was a mentor to you. Virginia Mentoring Partnership (VMP) believes that young people can do great things with the support and guidance of caring adults. VMP envisions a day when every child in our community will have the support of mentors who encourage them

emphasizing the fact that the only people that don’t make mistakes are the people that don’t do anything. We want our people to learn and grow. When one is through learning, they are through. They stop growing and the status quo is a way of life with them. Great mentors take an active interest in the people they are mentoring. They are there to serve them, to help them achieve their dreams, to gain self-confidence and to reach heights they thought unachievable. Our goal in establishing Owens & Minor University is to make sure that we have the best trained workforce

in the industry. Our teammates participate in many leadership classes taught by our staff and outside sources. Our Chairman, CEO and other officers are very involved in teaching classes on leadership with a particular emphasis on ethics. Like a great mentor should be, they draw upon their life experiences to help others succeed. They openly share what they have done right and what they have done wrong. Mentoring at Owens & Minor is not just a word; it’s a way of life. What makes it so effective, however, is our philosophy that when one teaches, two learn.

to reach their full potential. That is why we exist – to provide technical assistance to mentoring programs and training for volunteer mentors in order to increase the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships for Virginia’s young people.

ask us to dream big. As we celebrate their achievements, VMP asks you to dream big – to imagine a Richmond community where all young people receive the support, encouragement, and guidance they need to reach success.

VMP is proud to join Style Weekly as they recognize outstanding youth in our community. These young people inspire us with their talent, sense of purpose and service to others. They help us imagine the world in new and creative ways. They

To learn more about how you can volunteer as a mentor in a school or community program, contact Virginia Mentoring Partnership at (804) 828-1536 or visit

11 athletes. 6 musicians & singers. 4 dancers. 3 broadcasters. 3 artists. That adds up to a lot more than 16. That’s because this year’s group of Sixteen Under Sixteen honorees are all stars in multiple ways -- on stage, in the classroom and on the playing field.

Judges’ Profiles Jennifer Smith-Slabaugh, Ph.D. Virginia Mentoring Partnership Jennifer is the Executive Director

Even more importantly, all 16 of these outstanding young people give deeply of themselves. They raise funds for charities, mentor others, and volunteer for causes they’re passionate about. They remind us all that success isn’t just about trophies and grades, but about helping people who need it.

and President of VMP, a nonprofit that provides training and technical assistance to mentoring programs in Virginia. After receiving her bachelor’s degree she taught natural sciences to K-12 youth in Colorado and California wilderness areas for several years before heading back east and pursuing a Ph.D. in Education from VCU. Jennifer has also taught courses at Virginia

Mentoring Makes a Difference Every year, Style Weekly’s 16 Under 16 program reveals Richmond’s most talented kids whose devotion to academics, community service and leadership put them in a league apart from their peers. But behind every outstanding child we recognize is an outstanding adult, or team of adults, helping these kids reach their full potential. The support from parents, coaches and teachers can take a child far in life. But sometimes, it’s the help of another leader or role model who inspires them to reach new heights and overcome obstacles to achieve success. Based on data provided by Virginia Mentoring Partnership, estimates suggest that 125,000 children and adolescents in Virginia could benefit from being matched with a mentor. This year Style Weekly teamed up with Virginia Mentoring Partnership to encourage the community and those touched by the stories of our 16 Under 16 to reach out to children in need of a mentor. Mentoring a child can improve their academic performance, improve self-esteem and reduce negative behaviors. Studies show that youth who participate in mentoring relationships experience better school attendance, are less

likely to engage in risky behaviors like substance abuse, gang and youth violence and have more positive social attitudes and relationships with peers and parents. Virginia Mentoring Partnership provides customized training for about 4,000 mentor/tutor volunteers annually along with best practices training for mentoring program operators. Since 1995, Virginia Mentoring Partnership has prepared more than 28,000 volunteers across the Commonwealth for their roles as mentors and tutors and has provided hundreds of organizations with technical assistance, primarily for little or no cost. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or starting a mentoring program, contact Virginia Mentoring Partnership today and find out how you can get started making a difference in a child’s life. Style Weekly wishes to thank Owens & Minor and Virginia Mentoring Partnership for their generous and ongoing support of this program. Thank you for making a difference.

Commonwealth University, she has volunteered on numerous boards and advisory committees focusing on youth, the arts, and environment, including such organizations as ART180, James River Outdoor Coalition and is currently on the board of the Micah Initiative. She enjoys spending time with her husband Andy and son Quinn, playing in the outdoors.

Martha Collier Virginia Commonwealth University Martha (Marti) Collier is the Assistant Director of the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University. During her extensive service with the Henrico County school system she wore many hats as a school administrator and educator. In recent years she was an adjunct professor at the University of Richmond and the principal of Douglas Southall Freeman High School. She loves spending time with her three children and two “grandboys.”

richard c. bailey Richard C. Bailey faced a dilemma. He wanted to run crosscountry for St. Christopher’s School, but the after-school practice time overlapped with his harp lessons. Richard proposed a solution: Twice a week, he would run the three miles from school to his lesson at Grace Baptist Church in Windsor Farms. “He gets a workout in, and the harp instructor gets a sweaty musician,” says his coach, Gene Bruner. It worked. “Richard is one of the biggest success stories of my coaching career,” Bruner says. “He represents everything our program is about.” His dedication to the harp has paid off as well. On March 4, 14-year-old Richard joined 28 members of the American Youth Harp Ensemble for a performance in New York City’s Carnegie Hall. “It was amazing. There’s really no other words for it,” Richard says. “It’s a beautiful place, and it sounded really nice.” Richard performs at local nursing homes and All Saints Episcopal Church. He has also volunteered with the ensemble’s harp therapy outreach program, where students help teach children with disabilities the fundamentals of the instrument. He’s an honor student, and he’s on the varsity swimming and diving teams. Richard is also an Eagle Scout. For his big project, he raised money and with volunteers’ help, built a playground at First Congregational Christian United Church in Chesterfield County. He teaches younger Scouts the basics of scouting: first aid, firebuilding and camping.

If he could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, it would be: “My mom. Because she’s the one that really encourages me to do all this. She’s the main reason that I play the harp, and dive, and swim, and run cross-country and go to St. Christopher’s.”

alexis B.


Don’t mess with Alexis B. Chambers. At the age of 15, she’s a first-degree black belt in tae kwon do. Her introduction to the Korean martial art came abruptly. While she and her mother were out for lunch, her mom saw the school and bought Alexis a uniform. “We’ve got to try this out,” her mother said. “And if you don’t like it, you can just wear the uniform as a Halloween costume.” Alexis, then in the sixth grade, loved it. She liked the physical and mental focus, she says, and it brought balance to her life. She’s in the demanding IB program at Thomas Jefferson High School, aiming to get a diploma that will give her the status of a sophomore in college. Alexis’ crowning project was writing and printing a children’s

book about the environment. “I really like writing, in my free time -- which I don’t have much of,” she says. She’s not kidding. Alexis plays tennis on her school’s team, serves on the Student Council Association and the Parent Teacher Student Association, and plays two instruments: violin and flute. She volunteers at annual fundraisers for the Faison School for Autism and the American Heart Society’s Heart Ball, among other causes. She’s also training to become a professional model. She wants to major in advertising and minor in business and marketing, so she can eventually open her own agency. “Because when I get up there,” she says, “I want to be up there up there.”

If she could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, it would be: “My mother. Because she is the strongest woman I know, and she teaches everyone, and she tries to help everyone she can.”

h a n n a v a S

At the age of 14, Savannah Allen has done more volunteer work than many people do their whole lives. Savannah volunteers with Raider Times Together, a school club for special needs students. “We make cookies and watch movies, so they just get some extra time,” she says. She’s also a member of the Kindness Club, which is exactly what it sounds like: a group dedicated to making Atlee High School a kinder place. They’ve reached out to new students, put candy in lockers and helped advertise a community service fair. With her youth group at Cool Spring Baptist Church, Savannah helped fill backpacks with clothes, hats, gloves and Bibles to bring to the homeless in Washington, D.C. “It was sad, but we prayed with them and we talked to them,” Savannah says. “I heard a lot of people’s stories, and it was really amazing.” She also participates in domestic mission trips, including one coming up this summer in Richmond. And just a few months ago, Savannah began mentoring Ellie, a young girl with autism, through the Challenger Basketball program at her church. Savannah’s passion for music began in sixth grade, when she sang in chorus. Her older brother learned guitar, and Savannah decided to do that too. “Then one day I went to the guitar shop to get something fixed, and I saw the ukulele.” You can guess what happened then. Now she plays five instruments, writes her own songs and sings with her church’s praise band.

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t Rushmore, un o M to ne o ny a dd If she could a Because it would be: “Benjamin Franklin. he is a founding father, so I don’t know why he isn’t up there.”

allums abby

Abby Allums was just 8 years old when she began making wishes come true. “I couldn’t fall asleep,” Abby says, “and I was looking around my room. I thought, ‘How lucky am I? I have all these toys, and I bet some people don’t have as much as me.’” With her parents’ help, she made a big wishing well and placed it in

the lobby of J.B. Watkins Elementary School to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “This year, we raised as much money as I could ever dream of,” Abby says -- including a $500 check from an anonymous donor. In three years, she has raised more than $2,000. The effort’s only growing. Next year, 10-yearold Abby plans to install a wishing well at her new middle school, while her younger sister looks after the existing well. Abby hasn’t met any of the children whose wishes she helped grant, but she saw the effects of her generosity in a close friend who had childhood cancer. “She said before the MakeA-Wish thing, she was scared to tell everybody,” Abby says. “And now everyone knows, and she doesn’t care. She’s like, ‘I’m happy.’” Abby also donated her hair to Locks of Love this year. She plays field hockey and swims. And she’s a creative entrepreneur – she makes hair bows and wallets out of decorative duct tape and sells them to classmates for candy. She’s thinking about becoming a pediatrician, but she’s keeping an open mind. “It’s what destiny chooses for me.”

If she could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, it would be: “My mom. Because really the people who are famous to us, and our heroes, are our parents.”

candace erin cobb

Everyone at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School knows Candace Cobb. And that’s fine with her. “I actually like being lionized,” she jokes. “I don’t like to be known for infamy.” Candace, 14, is the morning anchor for the school’s daily news broadcast. It’s not just reading the announcements, she says. “We add vivid colors on the screen, show a lot of videos… of the athletic teams we have at our school, and we reach out to the kids and let them know you can listen to the morning announcements without falling asleep.” Candace is a straight-A student, the Student Council president, vice president of the National Junior Honor Society, the captain of the girls’ soccer

team and a percussionist for the school band. She plays golf and is a huge fan of Formula One racing. When she’s not broadcasting, playing soccer, or drumming, she’s usually studying. She also volunteers at her grandmother’s church. Most recently she spoke to the congregation about African-American journalist and activist Ida B. Wells -- a distant relative of Candace’s. Candace has big dreams. “I would also like to be the first female president of the United States of America,” she says. She intends to major in pre-med at Harvard and hopes to eventually find a cure for multiple sclerosis. It’s a cause close to her heart, because her mother has the disorder. It’s been tough, but her mom’s doing well now, Candace says. “I think if you think more positive, a lot of good things happen.”

If she could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, it would be: “President Barack Obama. Not just because he’s the first African-American president, but I feel like he’s really done a lot. Because throughout these years, we’ve had a really bad economy and ecology… and I think that’s a lot to handle as a president.”

h a niy s e l o c

When Niyah Coles was in fourth grade, she got a new family. She moved in with her father, stepmother and their four children. It was a huge change for an only child. “I didn’t like sharing at all,” Niyah says, “because I was so used to being raised by myself.” She had to leave her school, her neighborhood and her friends. But Niyah soon adjusted, and her grades never wavered. Her stepmother always treated her like her own daughter, she says. Now, Niyah has a close relationship with her mother and her step-mother. And she likes having brothers and sisters, she says: “It taught me a lot.” Her younger sister, 12-year-old Hannah, always comes to Niyah for advice “when she has school problems, boy problems -- that’s the biggest thing,” Niyah says. Niyah, 13, is in eighth grade at Byrd Middle School, where she’s an honor-roll student who excels in math. “I like math cause it’s challenging to my brain,” she says. “It makes me think.” Niyah is a competitive cheerleader with USA All-Stars, although she plans to shift her focus to track next year. She competes in the high jump, short distance, four-by-one relay and straight 100. She has always wanted to be an actress, and plans to take drama classes next year in high school.

unt o M o t yone “My mom.t n a d s d d be: er pa a uld aw l h o u c n o i e If sh more, it mistakes rned fromes. Rushe’s made ly I’ve lea e mistak e.” Sh honest de thos ion to m ut ma rat life, sbon who’s big inspi per She’s a

evan hughes

When he was in sixthgrade Spanish, Evan Hughes noticed that another kid in his class was having a tough time. “He really struggled,” Evan says. “Kids were always laughing at him.” While the other students laughed, Evan reached out. Evan helped the boy with his classwork, and when his attention wandered, he says, “I want to bring him back to the world and help him out and let him know that he’s got a friend.” Evan, 12, has always reached out to kids who need a friend. He spent much of his childhood volunteering at Comfort Zone Camp, the haven for grieving children his parents founded. Now, he volunteers with the

Kids Improving Social Skills program at his school, in which Evan mentors fellow students with Asperger’s and other disabilities. “I want to make them go from uncomfortable to comfortable,” he says. Last summer, Evan started announcing the games for Rockville Youth Sports’ all-star softball team. “Very spontaneous,” he says. “I just got put on the mic, and I really enjoyed it.” At Liberty Middle School, he announces boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling, and this spring, JV baseball at Patrick Henry High School. His secret to revving up the crowd: “Enthusiasm.” Evan is also an honor roll student, a basketball and tennis player, student council president and self-described “sports freak.” He has his own talk show on blogtalkradio. com, “Sports World with Evan Hughes,” and he hopes to take his broadcasting to the big leagues: ESPN.

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jaden micah

terry johnson How fast is Jaden Johnson? The first time he ever ran a race, he came in fifth. He was just 8 years old. Last year, he placed second in the same race -- the J.A. Chalkley Elementary School 5K -- with a time of 21:22. Jaden never even trained for the race. This 10-year-old is a budding athlete. Last year he started track -- and to no one’s surprise, he’s one of the fastest members of the team. Jaden has also played football for Chalkley since he was 5. Jaden plays basketball too, although he’s still waiting to get taller than his twin sister. In early March, his team was one game away from the championships -- but they lost. “People started crying,” Jaden says. His coach, Mitch Nichols, stayed positive. “He said, ‘Good job, you came a long way…. He said if he doesn’t coach us next year, we’ll still have a good season.’”

Jaden, too, coaches his teammates. Sometimes a friend gets a little lost on the field, and isn’t sure where to stand. Jaden tells him where to go and what to do. Jaden’s a star on the small screen too. He and friend Deandre McEwen host “Too Cool Youth,” a program for kids on Comcast’s channel 17 in Chesterfield County every Saturday morning. They talk about local kids’ accomplishments and events around Richmond. Deandre’s grandfather helps them record the show each week. “He’ll have lights, like two lights right here, and a green screen behind us,” he says. “And we’ll sit on chairs and talk.”

If he could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, it would be: “My family, because they do everything. I’d put them up there, because they look out for me, and they feed me, and if I ask my sister to do something, she’ll do it.”

n i y k r s r EKaseme

When she saw her first dance performance, Erin Kasemersky’s life changed forever. She was amazed by how the dancers in the Richmond Ballet’s Minds in Motion program seemed to move as one. And, she says, “I fell in love.” She couldn’t wait to join them. But in fourth grade, a doctor discovered hairline fractures in both Erin’s legs and a benign tumor in her right tibia. Erin was determined to keep dancing. “I want to go all the way, nonstop,” Erin said. Now 14, she’s in her final year in the top Minds in Motion youth class, Team XXL. Jazz is her specialty, because “you get to move and flow with the music and really interpret it.” She has performed at the Folk Festival and the Governor’s Mansion, among other venues. Next year, she’ll try out for the dance team at James River High School. Erin is an assistant to the fourth-grade Minds in Motion dance group, helping teach and inspire young dancers. “It makes me feel so happy,” she says, “to see they’re doing what I used to do.” Erin volunteers at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond through the Interactive Club, a community service group at Robious Middle School. She’s a Raider Guide too -- an orientation buddy for new students. She plans to continue dancing in college and beyond. “I don’t think I could live without it. It’s just something that I have to breathe.”

ushmore, R t n u o M to he was the d anyone s d e a s u ld a u c o e c If she be: “My mom. B it would roblems, wh. o p g le y m h it w ed me ds in Motion in M e one who help th t a g in k o really got me lo me, maybe She really pushed me, and told this would be a path.”

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Haley Poh A few years ago, Haley Poh’s parents asked her a tough question: What did she think about them adding foster children to their household? Without hesitating, Haley said yes. “I was surprised that they were starting to adopt children and I was kind of nervous too,” Haley says. Especially since one foster sibling was younger than Haley: “It felt like she was taking my spot and being Daddy’s little girl.” But her feelings started to change as Haley’s little sister got older and healthier (when she arrived, she used an oxygen tube). Haley, now the middle child of five, helps look after her younger siblings. Haley’s energy is endless. She helped her school raise money in the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. Haley, 10, also volunteers with the Miracle League of Richmond, a nonprofit that makes it possible for children with disabilities to play baseball. Haley plays softball, and is going into her first year of fast-pitch. She has a signature move on the mound: “I cock one foot out to the side, the edge of the mound,” she explains. “It looks funny,” but it works. Haley’s been a dancer since she was two. She’s an artist, and the only Crenshaw Elementary student to have work featured in the SunTrust student art show. She’s also a junior in the Girl Scouts, and wears her many badges with pride.


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jackson Last year, controversy clouded Richmond’s First Fridays Art Walk. The usually low-key monthly arts event had gotten rowdy, and many people pointed the finger at out-of-control teenagers. But no one talked to the teens about it -- except Jackson Meyer. “A lot of the blame was on young people,” Jackson says. “And we were kind of trying to prove that’s not how it is.” Jackson went out to the art walk and interviewed gallery goers, gallery owners and young people. The documentary was shown during a later art walk. Jackson is a 15-year-old ninth-grader in the IB program at Thomas Jefferson High School. He’s also a musician, artist and avid volunteer

meyer for Art 180, a nonprofit that encourages young people to express themselves through art. When Jackson was in third grade, he walked over to the William Byrd Community House to join an Art 180 cartooning class. He was too young to officially participate, but convinced the instructor to make an exception. Now in the Art 180 alumni group, Jackson mentors young artists and musicians. Last summer, he led an arts program for rising sixth graders at Boushall Middle School, helping them paint self-portraits. He also designs posters and volunteers for ART 180 events. Despite his talent in visual arts, Jackson says he’s focusing on music: “I want to compose movie scores. That’s really what I want to do.”

If he could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, it would be: “Conor Oberst, lead singer of Bright Eyes.”


grace rotter

Mary Grace Rotter became a philanthropist when she was just four years old. Proud of her long locks, she asked her mother how she could share her hair with others. Together they visited the website for Locks of Love, a nonprofit that makes custom hairpieces for children who have lost their hair because of illness or a medical condition. When Mary Grace saw the smiles on the recipients’ faces, she decided to donate her hair. It took patience. For a year, Mary Grace waited for her hair to grow, measuring it every month. Finally, she was able to donate four 11-inch ponytails to help make another little girl happy. That was just the beginning. At age 5, Mary Grace saw a man standing on the street corner and holding a sign. She asked her father

why he was there, what his sign said and how she could help him. Then, she started asking her father to save all the hotel soaps and toiletries from his business travels so she could donate them to homeless shelters in Richmond. Word spread, and more people contributed -- relatives, teachers and friends. Soon Mary Grace had boxes and boxes of toiletries, which she donated to the YMCA and local homeless shelters. She wants to keep the giving going by starting a new nonprofit called Gifts of Grace, which will continue to collect and donate toiletries to the needy. Mary Grace is growing her hair long again, and she already knows what she wants to do. “Donate it,” she says.

If she could addt anyone to Moun Rushmore, it s.” would be: “Jesu

Marisol Cristina Sotolongo

Marisol Sotolongo, 15, started dancing with the Latin Ballet of Virginia when she was just three years old, and her passion for dance only grew. “I take almost every class that they offer,” she says. “I take ballet, flamenco, jazz, hip-hop, belly dancing, capoeira, hula.” Hula? “It’s so cool.” Her favorite styles are flamenco and salsa, she says, because they help connect her to her Cuban roots. Marisol’s first teacher was Ana Ines King, the founder of the Latin Ballet. “She’s really been like a mother to me, and she’s really taken me under her wing and shown me about the culture, and about dance,” she says. In return, Marisol has been helping King teach her youngest dancers since the age of 8. She also assists with the ballet’s summer camp, teaching and choreographing dances. She’s an active member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church and an altar server. Recently, she volunteered at a shelter for homeless men with her youth group. Marisol is home schooled, along with her two younger brothers, so she can have the time to practice dance six days a week. All that work has paid off. When Marisol was about 9, she performed her first leading role: Little Maria in the ballet’s holiday production, “Legend of the Poinsettia.” She also dances with the professional company in group pieces. She plans to become a professional dancer, she says, “and see where that takes me in life.”

If she could add any one to Mount Rushmore, it woul d b e : “C elia Cruz. She’s Cuban also, and to m e sh model for Cuban pe e’s a good role ople in general.”

temple A.J. When A.J. Temple got too old to play soccer for the Mary Munford Elementary School team, he was determined to stay on the field. “I decided to give back to my coach by helping him coach his daughter, who was on the U-8 soccer team,” A.J. says. A.J., 13, is now the school’s official assistant soccer coach, working with 7- and 8-year-old players. Because he has a younger brother, coaching came naturally to him. “You’re just really patient to them, and support them, and they’ll be nice to you back,” A.J. says. During games, A.J. encourages his players from the sidelines: “I’m just more of cheering them on, saying, ‘Good shot,’ and ‘Oh, it’s OK.’” A.J.’s proudest moment as a coach was when his team recognized him at the end-of-the-year party. “They all really appreciated me,” he says with some surprise. A.J. also recently started playing with the JCC soccer team. He’s a hardworking student in the IB

program at Lucille Brown Middle School in Richmond, and he’s known in his neighborhood for being willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it -- especially single parents and kids. “He’s just very intuitive... he can tell how everybody’s feeling, what everybody needs and when,” his mother says. He hopes to attend the University of Virginia and major in engineering. But he’d still like to be a soccer coach. “Or a player,” he says.

If he could add anyo to Mount Rus ore be: “Coach Dunn, bne , it would ecause he actuahm lly got me into liking the sport. Whe was little, I didn’t like it, I didn’t want to play. But nthIen when he was my coach, he made it more fun… he was the one who got me thinking of being a coach.”

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16 Under 16 2012  

16 Under 16 2012