This is an astonishing achievement. Katie Chai, 18, of Charlotte, and Michael Chen, 13, of Raleigh, were named as two of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2021 on Sunday evening by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards during the program’s 26th annual, and second fully virtual, national recognition celebration. According to a press release, these two students were both selected from a field of more than 21,000 youth volunteers from across the country.

Katie and Michael have each earned the title of National Honoree where they will each receive a scholarship of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their schools, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit organization of their choice.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service.

Katie, a senior at Charlotte Latin School, helped start a grassroots effort to address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in her city by using 3D printers and laser cutters to make more than 100,000 face shields, which were ultimately distributed to health care workers across North Carolina and in 12 other states. Michael, a seventh-grader at Triangle Math and Science Academy, has made more than 580 mask “buckles” with his 3D printer to lessen the discomfort that wearing face masks for extended periods can cause behind the ears. Amazing! To read the names and stories of this year’s State Honorees, click here.

Alexis Zarycki is your average girl with the hopes of leaving an everlasting impact on the world. Follow her on Instagram @official_lexpaige