Meet the Influencers

January 26, 2018
From the editors of TIME, including writing and reporting by Raisa Bruner, Melissa Chan, Eliana Dockterman, Ashley Hoffman, and Alexandra Sifferlin
MIKE LAWRIE—GETTY IMAGES; GREG DOHERTY—GETTY IMAGES; ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ—GETTY IMAGES FOR DISNEY; NOAM GALAI—WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES; J.KEMPIN—GETTY IMAGES; AXELLE/BAUER-GRIFFIN/FILMMAGIC/GETTY IMAGES; CAMERON SPENCER—GETTY IMAGES; PEDESTALS BY STEPHEN BLUE FOR TIME FOR KIDS (7)

Education and entertainment. Science and sports. Fashion and fundraising. These are just a few of the fields in which young people are changing the world. TIME wrote about 30 influential young people. Here, TFK introduces you to 10 of them.

Muzoon Almellehan

NOAM GALAI—WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES; PEDESTALS BY STEPHEN BLUE FOR TIME FOR KIDS (7)

Muzoon Almellehan, 19

AN ADVOCATE FOR EDUCATION

Millions of children live in refugee camps. For them, the future may not be so bright. That is because only half are enrolled in elementary or middle school. Less than a quarter go to high school. This limits their chances to succeed in life. “They don’t have many options,” says Almellehan. She has experienced these conditions firsthand. She was a refugee. In 2013, she fled war in Syria. (Her family now lives in England.) She’s fighting to change conditions for refugee kids. In June, Almellehan became UNICEF’s youngest-ever goodwill ambassador. It’s her job to travel the world. She tells others about the importance of education, especially in places where children have been forced out of schools by people who do not believe they should be educated. Eventually, Almellehan plans to go home to Syria. “Our country needs a strong generation,” she says.

Auli’i Cravalho

ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ—GETTY IMAGES FOR DISNEY

Auli’i Cravalho, 17

A VOICE OF HER GENERATION

You may not know her face right away. But chances are you’ve heard Auli’i sing. The Hawaii native voiced the hero in Disney’s hit movie Moana. Now Auli’i is taking on a new role. She’ll star on NBC’s Rise. The show comes out in March. It tells the story of a high school theater department that lifts the spirits of a struggling town in Pennsylvania. The show is based on a true story. Auli’i says it has strengthened her belief that young people can bring about real change. Auli’i knows this from experience. On Rise, she plays a character who is of Polynesian and Puerto Rican descent. She and her character share the same background. That heritage isn’t often shown on TV or in movies. Auli’i is grateful that she gets to “share my culture with the world.” She also wants to help people understand different experiences. “I’m proud to be involved in projects that reflect the modern melting pot that is America.”

Moziah Bridges

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Moziah Bridges, 16

BUDDING FASHION MOGUL

At age 9, Moziah launched his own handmade bow-tie business. It began at his grandmother’s kitchen table. Now Mo’s Bows is worth about $1.5 million. Moziah’s success is partly because of his 2015 appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank. More recently, he signed a deal with the NBA. It lets him sell bow ties featuring team logos. But the Memphis, Tennessee, native has even greater ambitions. He plans to expand worldwide. He’s also started selling regular neckties. He’s done all of this while working toward graduating from high school. And he’s working on getting his driver’s license. “My all-time goal is to be a fashion mogul and a good person overall,” Moziah says. He credits his rise to his sense of style. (He says he used to “go to the playground in a suit and tie.”) At home, though, his mom is still the boss. Moziah wanted a Range Rover for his birthday. But she has made it clear that he’s “going to get the 2007 Jetta [that’s] in the garage.”

Christian Pulisic

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Christian Pulisic, 19

A SOCCER STAR

This Pennsylvania soccer prodigy plays for the U.S. national team. He also plays in the German professional league. Now he’s about to become America’s first big international star. Why? Pulisic has broken records for goal-scoring. He was also a bright spot in the recent U.S. attempt to qualify for the World Cup.

Mikaila Ulmer

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Mikaila Ulmer, 13

THE BEES’ KEEPER

Mikaila used to hate bees. “I absolutely despised anything that buzzed,” she says. It didn’t help that she had been stung, twice. But after that happened, Mikaila developed a fascination with them. She learned that honeybees are critical to the environment. She also learned that they are going extinct. Mikaila, who is from Texas, decided to help. She would do it with lemonade. She used her great-grandmother’s recipe. She sweetened it with local honey. She sold it at local fairs. Then she donated 10% of her profits to groups that helped honyebees. Now Me & the Bees Lemonade is sold at more than 300 Whole Foods stores. It’s sold at Wegmans and other grocery stores, too. Mikaila also runs a group called the Healthy Hive Foundation. Its goal is to raise awareness about the plight of the honeybee. And Mikaila plans to expand her company. She says, “I just hired my dad.”

Sydney McLaughlin

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Sydney McLaughlin, 18

AN OUTSTANDING ATHLETE

The Olympic hurdler and sprinter from New Jersey was the youngest American on the track-and-field team at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, in 2016. Now a college student at the University of Kentucky, she’s poised to make big moves in the 2020 Games.

Shawn Mendes

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Shawn Mendes, 19

A POP-MUSIC PHENOMENON

Mendes rose to fame on social media. Now he is one of music’s biggest stars. In the past three years, Mendes has released two blockbuster albums. He’s also had several hit singles. The Canadian singer has no plans to slow down. “I’m just honing and getting better at my craft,” he says of writing songs for his third album. “So I hope what comes out will be the best album yet by a landslide.” In the meantime, he’s focused on entertaining his young fans. He hopes to encourage them to follow their dreams. “I always want people to feel like they can do anything,” he says.

Krtin Nithiyanandam, 17

AN AMBITIOUS SCIENTIST

Krtin is a research scientist. He’s been in the news. That’s because of his work improving early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The disease causes memory loss. Krtin is also trying to help cure certain cancers. He won prizes at the Google Science Fair. In the United Kingdom, he won honors at the Young Scientists and Engineers Competition.

Salvador Gomez Colon, 15

PUERTO RICO'S SAAVY FUNDRAISER

Everything went dark when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Salvador’s neighborhood could be without power for at least a year. Other neighborhoods have the same problem. At first, Salvador felt scared. “Then I asked myself, ‘How could I give people hope?’” he says. The answer: Light and Hope for Puerto Rico. It’s a fundraising campaign. Salvador started it to raise money for solar lamps, hand-operated washing machines, and other items. The supplies are for neighbors in need. In four days, he raised $36,000. The total now stands at nearly $100,000. But Salvador knows it’s only a start. He wants the world to remember that Puerto Rico still needs help. “One day should not go by that we don’t remind ourselves of how we can make other people’s lives better,” he says.

Rayouf Alhumedhi, 16

A VOICE FOR CHANGE

This Muslim teenager is the force behind the “woman with head scarf” emoji. It is now on Apple smartphone keyboards everywhere. Her goal is to make sure there is better representation of girls and women like her. “It’s something important to my identity,” she says. The emoji will soon be available as a standard character on all smartphone keyboards.

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