Alex Dembeck’s top 10 people who influenced teens in 2018


Alex Dembeck

Parkland student activists, Rachael Denhollander, and Cristina Jimenez are among those who changed teen lives in 2018.

by Alex Dembeck, Reporter

Between the politics of the midterm elections, Winter Olympics, and vast human rights movements, 2018 will definitely be a year to remember . Many people have  impacted teens throughout the last 12 months, but these ten figures remained in the headlines throughout the majority of the year. We praised, argued, supported, and blamed these 10 influencers as their stories played out in the news and on social media. 

10. Christine Blasey Ford #MeToo #BelieveSurvivors

In September, the news cycle was dominated by the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Blasey Ford disclosed in an interview with the Washington Post that in high school, she had been sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh. She has testified in Congress regardless of threats and attacks on her and her family. She has been an inspiration for victims of sexual assault to come forward and testify.

9. Ryan Coogler #BlackoutBlackFriday #BlackLivesMatter #BlackPanther

Black Panther was undeniably one of the biggest movies of the year, making over $1.3 billion in the box office,  and the mastermind behind it used his movies to his advantage. Ryan Coogler has preached for better protection of human rights and has even started his own movement, Blackout for Human Rights. This year, Blackout for Human Rights has organized multiple sub-movements that made headlines, including #BlackoutBlackFriday, whose goal is to celebrate human art and boycott retailers that ignore human rights. The movement encourages people to only shop from retailers that promote human rights and support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Coogler has empowered teens of every race and ethnicity.

8. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) #Ocasio2018 #DemocraticSocialists

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently became the youngest woman to serve in Congress, a product of the midterm elections. At 29, Ocasio-Cortez won the election in New York’s 14th district, receiving over 50% of the votes. Before the election, she traveled the U.S as a part of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and advocated for those suffering from the Flint water crisis and other human rights violations. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an inspiration for young women who have big dreams.

7. Christine Hallquist (@christineforvt) #ChristineforVT #LGBTQ

This year’s midterm elections provided a platform for politicians to use their voices and make an impact. Vermont Governor Christine Hallquist took this opportunity and ran with it. Before the gubernatorial elections, Hallquist was the CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperation and became the first business leader in the country to transition while in office after her 2015 biographic film Denial where she announced she was transgender. This year she won her campaign for governor, with over 40% of the vote. 

6. Chloe Kim (@ChloeKim) #WomensHalfPipe #GoldMedalist

During the 2018 Winter Olympics, the world’s eyes were on the 17-year-old who won gold in the women’s snowboard half pipe, becoming the youngest to do so. Not only is Kim a talented snowboarder, but she is also relatable. While competing in the half pipe qualifying rounds, Kim tweeted about her cravings. Kim managed to win gold in her parents’ birth country of Pyeongchang and shattered Asian stereotypes. Her attitude and relaxation made her an idol for any student athlete or teen.

5. Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) #KevinDurantCharityFoundation #WeMoveDifferent #TeamDurant

In addition being an idol for young basketball players, Kevin Durant is a philanthropist. In January he donated $3 million to the University of Texas at Austin to add funding to the men’s basketball program and the well being of student athletes in general. KD also recently committed $10 million to the College Track program to help disadvantaged children receive a higher education. This money went specifically to children in Prince George’s County, Maryland, the county in which Durant is from. KD has started the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation (KDCF) where he helps enrich the lives of at-risk youth through educational, athletic, and social opportunities. Durant has made it his mission to help children who live in the same situations he did and to give them opportunities for a better life.

4. Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) #BlackLivesMatter #IKnowMyRights

While playing on the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem and started a controversial movement. Whether you like him or not, it is undeniable that Kaepernick was an influential figure during 2018. In September, the former NFL player teamed up with Nike to release an ad explaining his personal sacrifice, practically losing his career, to stand for what he believes in. The Nike ad caused another controversial spike of attention for Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement.

3. Cristina Jiménez (@CrisAlexJimenez) #UnitedWeDream #AbolishICE #HereToStay

Early this year, President Donald Trump reversed DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an immigration option for undocumented immigrants under the age of 16. Being a child immigrant from Ecuador, Cristina Jiménez co-founded an immigrant youth network in 2008 called United We Dream. This year, Jiménez and her organization have been focused on those who were affected by the reversal of DACA, teens and young children. United We Dream protests are led by teens for teens, and by providing such a powerful platform, Cristina Jiménez has been a heavily influential figure for everyone under the age of 16.

2. Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) #InspirationOfTheYear #BelieveSurvivors

Rachael Denhollander is a former U.S gymnast, a current lawyer, and a victim of sexual assault. Denhollander was the first gymnast to step forward about the abuses of former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in January. She was in the courtroom every session, embracing fellow survivors and encouraging others to speak out about sexual assault. This court case dominated the headlines for weeks and Denhollander was the woman behind the powerful movement. Denhollander also recently won Sports Illustrated‘s Inspiration of the Year award. 

1. The Parkland Student Activists (@AMarch4OurLives): Cameron Kasky (@Cameron_Kasky), Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin), David Hogg (@davidhogg111), Emma González (@Emma4Change), and Alex Wind (@al3xw1nd) #MarchForOurLives #GunControl #Enough

Perhaps one of the saddest days of 2018 was when America learned about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This tragedy was a turning point in the fight for better gun control and mental health awareness, as teens began to take matter into their own hands. Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma González, and Alex Wind, all of whom were Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, became activists and started March For Our Lives. This student-oriented organization is meant to be an outlet for teens to use their voices and spark change in our society, and it has done just that. There were very few times that the March For Our Lives movement wasn’t in the news, making these five pioneers of a more involved generation.

Honorable Mention:

Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) for his achievements in Texas’ Senate election.

Tarana Burke (@TaranaBurke) for her progress with the #MeToo movement.

Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) for his actions in children’s healthcare.

Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) for her inspirational embodiment of Wonder Woman.