21 Under 21: Teen Vogue’s Young Leaders

Teen Vogue is wrapping up 2017 with the gift of a bright, innovative, and more inclusive new year in its release of the 21 Under 21 List. Celebrating “The Faces of the Future,” Pakistani Female Education Activist and Nobel Peace Prize holder, Malala Yousafzai, introduced the list of 21 inspiring young women and femmes being recognized for their success in Entrepreneurship, Politics and Activism, Fashion, Music, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

“Girls are not just tomorrow’s leaders—they are [today’s women], speaking out, standing up, and fighting back,” Malala says. “These honorees prove that our generation is full of leaders, creators, and self-starters. They make the world around them—from giant corporations, presidents, and prime ministers to sports fans, art lovers, classmates, and people they’ve never even met—take notice and, hopefully, take action.”

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Among the youngest of the honorees is ten-year-old Mari Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint. Copeny began her activism at age eight when she penned a request to Former United States President Barack Obama to inspect the Flint water crisis (which has since been declared over).

In 2017, Copeny became one of the youngest youth ambassadors for the Women’s March on Washington. And it sounds like her sights are set on the Oval Office; she told Teen Vogue, “Vote for me in 2044 for president!”

14-year-old STEM trailblazer, Taylor Richardson, is at the forefront of making her dreams a reality. taylor-richardson

Self-described as a “STEMinist” and inspired by astronaut Mae C. Jemison, Richardson has raised over $120,000 through GoFundMe for 1000 young women to see the screening of Hidden Figures. In addition, she organized a scholarship fund to send young girls to space camp. Representation does matter.

Saanya Bhargava, a 16-year-old Texas robotics champion, co-founded two organizations for STEM and environmental advocacy.

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The STEM Advocacy Conference of Texas pushes for gov­ernment funding of STEM education in underserved communities, and Impact.gravitas is dedicated to devel­oping alternative solutions to ocean plastic pollution. “Girls have a lot more potential than some people think,” says Saanya. 

For the full list of the 21 under 21 incredible self-starters, click here.


Feature photo by Petra Collins; photo of Mari Copeny by Ashley Armitage (top left); photo of Taylor Richardson by Rose Marie Cromwell (right); photo of Saanya Bhargava by Kathy Lo (bottom left)