Glamour’s Top 10 College Women 2012
Kaylee Marie Radzyminski, 20
Tennessee Tech University
Major: Geographic information systems
Why she rules: When Radzyminski was at Naval Sea Cadet camp as a teen, she learned that what soldiers overseas miss most besides their families is entertainment; their CD and DVD collections get old fast. So she created Tunes 4 the Troops, shipping more than one million discs to troops stationed around the world. And when the ROTC student isn’t making life better for them, she’s caring for her family: Since her mom started treatment for the autoimmune disease lupus in late 2011, Radzyminski spends weekends at home in Cleveland, Tennessee, even paying her mother’s rent out of her resident assistant and ROTC stipends. Her grandfather, a former Marine major, has been her role model, she says: “The way he treated people and served his country—I want to do that too.”
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: After a stint in Army Intelligence, “I want to be the first female U.S. secretary of defense,” she says.
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Annie Ryu, 21
Major: Social anthropology
Why she rules: Simply put, Ryu is a doer. In 2010 the Rochester, Minnesota, native traveled to the Dominican Republic with a nonprofit to install water-purifying units. When she realized the charity could use more manpower, she rallied more student volunteers. Then, upon learning that less than 50 percent of pregnant women in India receive prenatal care, she helped create a service that texts appointment reminders from a rural health clinic to new and expectant moms. Today the system serves more than 3,000 patients. Now she has a new goal: to stock U.S. grocery shelves with jackfruit. The sweet fruit is cheap and easy to grow in India, and sales will bring much-needed income to farmers. “I know it’s a lot,” she says, “but I do all these things because I love them.”
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: With her M.D. and M.B.A. degrees in hand, she says, she’ll be shaping global health policy with the World Health Organization.
Jasmine Mans, 21
University of Wisconsin
Major: Sociology and African American studies
Why she rules: Mans has never been the quiet type. She began stringing rhymes together as a middle-schooler in Newark, New Jersey; in college, she began mentoring younger poets and teaching creative writing through the University of Wisconsin’s First Wave program. Now she’s a spoken-word star, thanks to her powerful topical poems about black life in America. She has been featured on HBO’s Brave New Voices, BET, and billboard.com, and after she posted herself performing her poem critiquing Nicki Minaj as a role model on YouTube, it got more than 400,000 hits and sparked multiple online debates. Mans’ “Dear First Lady” poem celebrates the great-leap-forward feeling of having a black couple in the White House: “I watched as my four-year-old cousin sat in the mirror, placed my grandmother’s pearls around her neck, and said, ‘Jazz! Do I look like Michelle Obama?’ This little girl who does not know how to say ‘Rice Krispies’ or ‘macaroni and cheese’ properly said your name as if it existed on her long list of heroes in between Snow White and Santa Claus.” Google it. Breathtaking.
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: “I don’t know where I’ll be,” she says, “but in 20 years a little black girl will stand in front of her class and read her favorite poem by Jasmine Mans.”
Maggie Dunne, 21
Major: Native American studies
Why she rules: When Dunne was a high school sophomore in a wealthy New York City suburb, she knew very little about Native Americans; her history teacher had skipped over that chapter. But on a volunteer trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, she witnessed what centuries of disenfranchisement had wrought. “I’d never seen poverty like that—and in our own country!” she says. “I vowed to go back every year for the rest of my life.”
Dunne has made good on her promise and then some. After cataloging the reservation’s biggest issues—access to clean drinking water is spotty; unemployment is between 60 and 80 percent; and in an area nearly the size of Connecticut, there’s only one hospital—she resolved to work with the community to address each one. Dunne founded the Lakota Pine Ridge Children’s Enrichment Project, collecting and delivering more than $100,000 worth of coats, boots, and school supplies. She even cold-emailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and scored an internship studying the root causes of poverty with his organization in Bangladesh. Then she took what she learned and applied it to Pine Ridge.
Impressive? Yes. But Dunne is also a figure skater and instructor, and she loves to sparkle. “I tend to bedazzle everything,” she says. “And I wear pink when I’m stressed out. I’ll be decked out in it for finals!”
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: Working as executive director of a national nonprofit providing services to Native American tribes across the United States. “Any challenges a community faces,” she says, “can be fixed.”
Ola Ojewumi, 21
University of Maryland
Major: Government and politics
Why she rules: In fifth grade, when most kids were struggling with fractions, Ojewumi was diagnosed with a heart defect and kidney failure; she had to have transplants of both organs. “People know a transplant is major surgery but think that afterward you’re fine,” she says. “My reality is 22 pills a day and one injection a week, with a motorized wheelchair to get around.”
More recently she’s been diagnosed with a form of post-transplant cancer—but even that hasn’t slowed her down. Ojewumi created the Sacred Hearts foundation to advocate for organ donation and provide hundreds of sick kids with stuffed animals. She also founded Project Ascend, which funds a summer camp for low-income Maryland teens. Her work landed her an internship at the White House, so she took a group of campers for a round-table with six White House staffers, as well as a tour, which is now a monthly event.
“If I wasn’t sick, I wouldn’t be doing this,” she says. “So while this condition is taking my life slowly, it’s giving me life too.”
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: On Capitol Hill, fighting for international women’s rights as a lobbyist. “We have to keep reminding our politicians: There must be more of an emphasis on women,” she says.
Keeley Tillotson, 19
University of Oregon
Why she rules: A native of Portland, Oregon, and a self-described “food purist,” Tillotson started making her own peanut butter in her apartment with her best friend, Erika Welsh, mixing in everything from pretzels to coffee beans.
“It was a rainy day, and we didn’t feel like biking to the store,” she says. “We had a bunch of peanuts and a food processor, so we got creative!” And so was born Wild Squirrel Nut Butter, which so far has sold more than 10,000 jars on its website and in more than 30 stores across Oregon and Washington. Flavors like Curious Cocoa-Nut, Pretzel Pizazz, and Sneaky Cinnamon are flying off shelves as fast as the girls can supply them. Tillotson hopes to expand the business nationwide—they’re in talks with Whole Foods!—and support local and national nonprofits. “I want the company to have an impact and some greater message,” she says.
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: Running a company with a conscience. “I’d like to see Wild Squirrel become more than a peanut butter company,” she says. “I want it to make the world better.”
Yali Derman, 21
University of Pennsylvania
Why she rules: Derman made her first handbag at age 10 by sewing together bandannas nurses gave her in the hospital where she was a leukemia patient. (Refusing to use them to cover her bald head was her “only act of childhood rebellion,” she says.) In remission for 11 years now, she’s still making bags, working paisley into every design—including the collaboration she did through the Make-A-Wish Foundation with Kate Spade when she was 16.
Her latest is Yali’s Carry On, a large tote with a swirling neon peacock. “It’s a way of saying, ‘I’m here,’” she says. “It’s bold and loud but functional and fun, and that’s who I am.” She’s sold about 2,000, donating all proceeds—more than a whopping $150,000—to an arts facility at the hospital that treated her when she was young. The Illinois native also directs the workshops she started in Chicago and Philadelphia for kids with cancer, helping them to create their own bags, of course.
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: As a pediatric nurse practitioner, she wants to “continue to help kids use art to cope with illness,” she says.
Colleen Gulick, 21
University of Maryland
Why she rules: Gulick doesn’t have just one or two medals to display on her walls. She has 171—not to mention the 47 trophies on shelves and in boxes. The all-star athlete from Spring City, Pennsylvania, has competed in track and field, soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, and is a starting player on her NCAA Division I field hockey team at the University of Maryland. But her favorite sport? Cycling. The 5’4” junior is the only woman in the U.S. ever to medal in a men’s cycling race. Currently she is ranked sixth in the nation for female cyclists in her age group (20 to 29), is a three-time national champion and 30-time national medalist, and holds the record for the most medals won in a single national championship (she took home eight). Oh, and she’s a star student too: At 16, she was the youngest person ever recruited by the University of Maryland’s honors program.
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: Polishing her 2016 Olympic gold for track cycling and, after that, “working as an orthopedic surgeon, treating other Olympians,” she says.
Sarah Stern, 20
University of Kansas
Majors: Latin American studies and journalism
Why she rules: Stern has always been into photography—at 15, she started her own business shooting weddings in her hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. So when she grew obsessed with Latin America in college, she grabbed her Nikon D300 and set off to see it. But Stern was no passive observer: In Paraguay for the massive annual Carnaval Encarnaceno, she photographed the parade and danced samba in it, becoming the first American to do so. In Brazil she walked up to a gang lord who’d taken a camera from her partner and negotiated, in Portuguese, for its return. Her shots from the trip will be published in a large-format book and featured in a special collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
This semester she’s shifting her focus (pun intended) to work with microloan recipients at a social entrepreneurial nonprofit in Paraguay. But her camera will never be far from her hip. “Photography,” she says, “is a way of expressing myself and showing people what I see.”
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: She’ll be a trailblazer developing Latin American businesses that succeed, she says, by being “sensitive to local cultures.”
Déa Julien, 22
New York University
Why she rules: For the past year Julien has sung and danced her way across America with the Broadway tour of West Side Story, playing the ditzy Rosalia and scoring rave reviews from the Chicago Sun-Times and Broadway Magazine. A first-generation American (her mom is Palestinian-Lebanese, and her dad’s Slovenian), Julien speaks four languages, is trained in classical piano, and has volunteered with multiple charities. “I want to do film, theater, opera,” she says. “I’m trying to be as well-trained as possible so I can just go where the best story is.”
Where you’ll find her in 20 years: Filling her mantel with Tony Awards and running a mentorship program for kids in the arts. “Theater,” she says, “can move people to change the world.”