12 'Ordinary' Kids Who Made 'TIME's Most Influential List

Suzee Skwiot | Oct 16, 2014 Tweens & Teens

malala yousafzaiFrom superstar athletes to culinary prodigies and record-breaking Nobel Peace Prize winners, this year's crop of TIME's 25 Most Influential Teens is impressive. And that's to say the least. They've become activists, inspirations, and role models for the rest of the youth around the country.

TIME's list features amazing teens who have gone on to shape the world, but the real standouts are the everyday kids who are doing awesome things. They're the kids who remind us that our children really can change the world one day.

Look below to see which teens made the list and see just how great their accomplishments are:

Which teen is most inspiring to you?

 

Image via Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

  • Mo’ne Davis

    1

    Why she's on this list: The 13-year-old athlete appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this year, after pitching a no-hitter in the Little League World Series.

    Inspiring words: "I never thought that I would be a role model at this age," she told ESPN. "It was kind of shocking to me when I first came down to watch a game. There was a crowd of people. I was kind of nervous but I was, like, excited for it. So I just have to be myself."

  • Jazz Jennings

    2

    Why she's on the list: Jazz has been very public about being a transgender child. She's starred in her own "I Am Jazz" YouTube videos and has been featured on the Out 100 and The Advocate‘s 40 Under 40 lists in the past year.

    Inspiring words: "I want to tell [other kids] that it’s okay to step out of their shadows and be who they are," she said in an interview with Janet Mock. "Just be true to yourself and always know that it’s okay to express yourself and just be happy."

  • Flynn McGarry

    3

    Why he's on the list: The 15-year-old culinary superstar already runs his own supper club -- in his mother's living room. Eureka, which includes tasting menus at $160 per person, is all about "progressive American cuisine."

  • Erik Finman

    4

    Why he's on the list: The 15-year-old entrepreneur invested $1,000 (which he received as an Easter gift from his grandmother) into bitcoins, and later sold them for $100,000. With that money, he's started his own online tutoring startup, Botangle.com.

    Inspiring words: "When I first started Botangle, I didn't think it was a company," he said in a Reddit AMA earlier this year. "I just had some really crappy learning experiences at my (very) rural school and I wanted something better."

  • Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey, Sophie Healy-Thow

    5

    Why they're on the list: These three Irish students took home top prize at the Google Science Fair in 2014. Their project focused on Diazotroph, a natural bacteria found in soil, that, when present, can increase the amount of crops grown.

    Inspiring words: They're not stopping with the Science Fair. "In the long run we are definitely going to continue the project and try to commercialise it in whatever way we can," Emer told the Irish Times. "Then we can really begin to change the world."

  • Salma Kakar

    6

    Why she's on the list: She's part of the Afghan National Cycling Team and leads the co-ed group. Along with the rest of the women, and coach Abdul Seddiqi, her goal is to encourage other girls to ride in a country where bicycling is mostly reserved for men.

    Inspiring words: It's her dream "to wave the flag of Afghanistan in the Olympics, to prove to the world that women in Afghanistan have progressed," she told NBC News.

  • Lydia Ko

    7

    Why she's on the list: The 17-year-old golfing prodigy is the youngest woman ever to make it into the LPGA and is already the third best female golfer in the world.

    Inspiring words: "For a few tournaments I’ve been the youngest competitor and I’ve coped," she told The New York Times. "I don’t really think about my age or what I’ve done really. I’m just one of the 156 players that are here."

  • Malala Yousafzai

    8

    Why she's on the list: Two years ago, the Pakistani teen was shot in the head by the Taliban while she was on her way to school. Since then, she's become a powerful and proud activist for girls' education and most recently became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Inspiring words: "Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured," she said in an address to the United Nations Youth Assembly. "I am just one of them. So here I stand, one girl among many. I speak not for myself but for those without voice ... those who have fought for their rights -- their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated."

  • Bethany Mota

    9

    Why she's on the list: It all started five years ago. With her YouTube channel, Macbarbie07, Bethany became a beauty and fashion blogger and guru. She's gone on to guest star on Project Runway, is on the current season of Dancing With the Stars, and just released a single.

    Inspiring words: "I think [YouTube has] taught me to be a lot more self-motivated and has taught me how to encourage myself and not rely on a teacher or a boss telling me what to do," she said in an interview with Seventeen. "I’m my own boss. My biggest thing to overcome has been not being afraid to be different. It’s safer to do what everyone else is doing, but it pays off way more to be yourself."

  • Joshua Wong

    10

    Why he's on the list: He's the founder of China's pro-democracy activist student group, Scholarism, and has played a central role in the recent Hong Kong protests. 

    Inspiring words: "You have to see every battle as possibly the final battle," he told CNN's Wilfred Chen. "Only then will you have the determination to fight."

  • Megan Grassell

    11

    Why she's on the list: She's the founder of Yellowberry, a bra company that specifically caters to young girls. All of her products are comfortable, age-appropriate, and cute. Much better than the sexualized products that she's seen on shelves.

    Inspiring words: "One of the biggest problems I had getting started was getting people to take me and my ideas seriously," she told Fortune. "I hope now they can see that I’m serious and that this is happening."

  • Tavi Gevinson

    12

    Why she's on the list: The founder of Rookie Magazine, an online destination for teens about fashion, news, and life, is lauded as one of the best and brightest online media founders.

    Inspiring words: "For most people, being a feminist sounds so complicated," she told Bust. "It’s always more convenient to not be someone with controversial opinions."

inspiring teens

More