Student:

Hannah Slipakoff

School: The Crefeld School in Philadelphia, where she is a junior.

Achievement: With help from the Darfur Alert Coalition and a Sudanese and American student planning committee, Slipakoff, of Cheltenham, organized the Philadelphia Youth Conference on Darfur. The event took place last month at her school in Chestnut Hill.

As director of the conference, Slipakoff, 17, secured event sponsors, formed a planning committee, applied for a grant from the Save Darfur Coalition, booked speakers and workshop facilitators, and invited local schools and student activists from the Philadelphia area. Students from about a dozen high schools participated in the Philadelphia Youth Conference on Darfur.

The conference - a day of education, advocacy and activism - included discussions on the genocide in Darfur, a screening of the documentary Darfur Diaries, speeches from Darfurians, workshops that provided students with resources to enable them to advocate for Darfur, and discussions led by activists.

Becoming part of the solution: "I am the type of person who is unable to stand idle while others are suffering," Slipakoff said. "Being that I have great compassion for all humankind, I feel that it's atrocious for the Sudanese government to be exploiting their power in favor of destruction through murder, rape and hatred."

It takes a village: "Being active with the Darfur Alert Coalition allowed me to pull from its resources of school and student contacts. I put together a Sudanese/American student planning committee by asking a few friends of mine who are active in the movement and a few Sudanese students who are a part of Darfur Alert Coalition to join on."

Students' role: "Young people are the future. From my perspective, every human being is a world citizen with the responsibility to protect, nurture, and be involved with his or her greater community.

"Without an active and aware contingent of young people today, we cannot be sure that human rights violations and other wrongdoings will not repeatedly occur.

"Young people have a fantastic, natural gleam of hope and growth that makes community involvement empowering for all ages. Lastly, I believe that young people underestimate the power they hold. If they are frustrated with a certain issue, they should realize that the power to changing it is through community action."

Color her world: "Working for a nonprofit organization is definitely a key piece of my career plan. I have a huge love for art, and I take ceramics, sculpture and glassblowing classes.

"I hope to blend my passions for the arts and social consciousness together in the community arts career field."

What a teacher says: "Hannah is a curious, energetic, passionate student that every teacher wants in her classroom," said Gena Lopata, an English teacher at the Crefeld School.

"Hannah doesn't want to have information presented to her; she wants to dive into it, and discover how it affects her and the world around her."

- Erica Lamberg