Meet Arizona’s 18 Under 18
Our Future Leaders and Change Makers

We set out to determine the top 18 Under 18 in Arizona – the young people who represent the future leaders, change makers, and innovators in our communities. All the nominees filled us with hope and promise for the future. These 18 young individuals stood out. Not only do they demonstrate exceptional leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and dedication to the community, but they are already making a difference! They've accomplished so much in their young lives and have ambitious futures ahead. The 18 Under 18 all have one thing in common: they represent the business and community leaders of tomorrow and will inspire their peers to achieve new heights. Meet this year's 18 Under 18 and join us in celebrating their accomplishments!

Entrepreneurial Spirit  |  Leadership  |  Making the Community Better | Extraordinary Skillset

Aleena Valdez
Sheely Farms Elementary, Phoenix
14 years old

Aleena’s LemonAid Stand is an LLC and sprouts up at locations across the southwest Valley. Customers may purchase snow cones, in addition to a variety of lemonade flavors. Portions of Aleena’s sales benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital. But Aleena isn’t finished with her entrepreneurship. She’s also...

Proudly sponsored by Mary Contreras 
State Farm Agent 
2145 E Warner Rd, Suite 101, Tempe, AZ 85284
480-775-7788 |

“Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination.”
 – Mary Contreras


Saul Ontiveros
Tempe High School, Tempe
17 years old

Saul serves on the board of directors for Key Club International. He oversees the efforts of more than 270,000 Key Clubbers around the globe. “We promote service for young people,” he said. “I’ve been promoting service for people who don’t know what it means to help...

Joe Ross
Corona del Sol High School, Tempe
18 years old

As someone who has aspirations to work on Capitol Hill one day, Joe already is building roots in public service. Among the groups benefitting from Joe’s volunteer and leadership efforts are Tempe Sister Cities Junior Achievement’s Young Ambassadors, National...

Tatum Stolworthy
Corona del Sol, Tempe
17 years old

When Tatum lost a friend to suicide, she knew it was time to get to work. “The Aztec Strong club at Corona del Sol makes sure that teens have help and hope,” she said. “I was very persistent to get the Teen Lifeline information on the back of our school IDs. I’d been...

Trinity Peters
Empire High School, Vail
18 years old

Trinity is the captain of the 1828 BoxerBots team for the Vail School District. She also is a leader in the YES (Youth Engaged Stewardship) program that surveys the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in Tucson for conservation. “This year our robot had to pick up...


Junior Achievement of Arizona is preparing today's students to succeed in work and life by equipping them with critical skills to manage their money, be ready to enter the workplace and to think like entrepreneurs. Reaching 80,000+ primarily low-income students each year, Junior Achievement is giving these students the tools and confidence to break poverty cycles and achieve new heights.

Republic Media is Arizona’s largest media company and part of The USA TODAY NETWORK. Home to azcentral and The Arizona Republic, the company helps the community connect, understand, act and thrive by keeping people informed and giving back. From raising funds that help at-risk children and families, to sponsoring local events and so much more, Republic Media identifies problems, supports solutions and fulfills its mission to enlighten, education and empower.

Alison Prickett Chandler

Aimee Nguyen Glendale

Alexia Moreno Tempe

Chloe Buchanan Casa Grande

Christine Nowaczyk Phoenix

Connor White Phoenix

Elizabeth Cameron Phoenix

Evan Grace Maricopa

Jackson Wong Glendale

Kamley Braun Phoenix

Kenadee Rausch Chandler

Lauren Puffer Tempe 

Melanie Furman Tempe

Michael Botchway Mesa

Monet Tam Chandler

Victor R. Moreno Tucson

Whitney Field Gilbert 

Zhanisha Tounsel Vail



Proudly sponsored by Tammy White 
State Farm Agent 
610 N Alma School Road, Suite 22, Chandler, AZ 85224 
480-963-7007 |

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
 – Tammy White


Christopher Whitmeyer
Queen Creek High School, Queen Creek 17 years old

When Christopher has an idea, he not only completes it – he also finds people to work with him. A senior at Queen Creek High School, Christopher is enrolling in the Fire Science program at Mesa Community College to become a...

Rocco Gump
Seton Catholic Preparatory High School, Chandler 14 years old

A freshman at Seton Catholic Prep, Rocco quickly established himself as someone who values community service. “Service is a big part of my life,” Rocco said. “I volunteer for Maggie’s Place, which is an organization that helps...

Maximus Smith
ASU Preparatory Academy, Mesa 16 years old

Maximus is proving quickly that he’s an inventor at heart. He came up with a prototype for a non-lethal weapon that would help law-enforcement agencies. After presenting the idea at his school, then again at a larger competition, he won. The prize included...

Prateek Pinisetti
BASIS Chandler, Chandler 17 years old

Prateek, a national chess champion, formed ChessHelps, a nonprofit organization that teaches hundreds of young chess players and raises money from chess tournaments to support its mission of alleviating poverty through chess. From the donations, Prateek’s group has donated to...

Taylor Veschio
BASIS Flagstaff 17 years old

Taylor was volunteering at a Flagstaff-area senior home and she noticed something: the residents needed people to talk to. “A lot of the people there don’t have family that visit them very often,” she said. “So I adopted a grandfather, and I’d bring him cookies and read him the paper. But I needed...


Proudly sponsored by Pam Johnson 
State Farm Agent
1489 S Higley Rd, Ste 105, Gilbert, AZ 85296
480-633-0324 |

“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”
– Pam Johnson


Anthony (AJ) Aguilar
Cienega High School, Vail
18 years old

Cienega’s student body president, AJ likes to find commonality among seemingly different groups. He gets students interested in science, the environment and community outreach by bridging social divides. He’s also been published in a scholarly journal...

Kylie Hunts-in-Winter
Arizona Connections Academy, Gilbert
15 years old

Kylie’s Indian name is “Brave Woman,” which also was the name of her third great grandmother, a female warrior from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Kylie is a recipient of the American Indian Excellence in Leadership award. Although she’s...

Vanessa Strait
Highland High School, Gilbert
17 years old

“I like to be busy,” Vanessa said. That sounds like an understatement. From the Chandler Service Club to the Governor’s Youth Commission, Inspire Arizona to Tedx Gilbert, it seems she’s always searching for another way to give back. “I was...

Charlie Hall
Neely Traditional Academy, Gilbert
11 years old

Although he’s only in the fifth grade, Charlie has found his life’s passion: the stage. Whether it’s acting on stage, writing a play or directing a production, he’s found the place that allows him to give back to his community. Charlie has performed in eight...


Proudly sponsored by Jeremy Mueller 
State Farm Agent
23341 N Pima Rd Ste D139, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
480-515-5223 |

“Hunger and persistence will beat talent in the long run. Persist and never lose the hunger you have and you will be a success.” – Jeremy Mueller


Kellen Vu
Arizona School for the Arts, Glendale
16 years old

When Kellen Vu was a freshman, he read a book about people struggling for water South Sudan. It affected him, and he wanted to make a difference. Freshmen for Fresh Water was born. In one year, the group raised $7,000 for its cause. The mission continues...

Nikhil Dave
Horizon Honors High School, Phoenix
17 years old

A senior at Horizon Honors and a Flinn Scholar, Nikhil has already established himself among the Alzheimer’s disease research community in Arizona. He currently works with ASU’s Biodesign Institute and has presented papers at scholarly conferences....

Kira Householder
Chaparral High School, Scottsdale
16 years old

Kira is making the future happen through medical research related to cancer and wellness. As a volunteer for FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) and an intern at the Barrow Neurological Institute, she has found that her interests also can help...

Karlina Riggs
Chaparral High School, Scottsdale
18 years old

As the Miss Arizona Teen USA 2017, Karlina used her voice to empower young girls and facilitate positive change. Part of her platform was expanding students’ knowledge of civics. She’s very proud of what Arizona has done. In addition to her work as ...