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Howland senior wins Twenty Under 20 honors

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Charles Jarvis, Tribune Chronicle publisher, presents a $500 check to Howland High School senior Kate Li, who was named the overall winner of the eighth annual Twenty Under 20 program. The program, sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley and Kent State University at Trumbull, honors 20 high-achieving individuals younger than 20 for their leadership skills through volunteerism, extracurricular activities and academic achievements.

Howland High School’s Kate Li stood out among standouts and was named the overall winner in the 2020 class of Twenty Under 20.

Now in its eighth year, the program — co-sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley and Kent State University at Trumbull — honors 20 high-achieving individuals younger than 20 for their leadership skills through volunteerism, extracurricular activities and academic achievements.

Li received $500 to be donated to the charity of her choice. After receiving the honor from Tribune Chronicle Publisher Charles Jarvis, Li thanked the sponsors for creating Twenty Under 20.

One of those sponsors, Kent State University at Trumbull, has pledged to give each of the 20 students a full scholarship if they attend KSU at Trumbull as a full-time student.

“I’m really thankful … especially this year where everything is crazy with the pandemic and everything,” Li said. “I really appreciate that.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what normally would have been an in-person banquet and award ceremony instead is being held virtually. Li’s comments may be viewed on the virtual presentation beginning at 7 p.m. today at www.tribtoday.com.

The 17-year-old senior also thanked her parents, school and community.

“My family has always been there supporting, sacrificing so many different things so I can do the activities that I’m in and provide the community service I’ve been able to do,” Li said. “I’d like to thank my school and the entire community. The person I am today is a little piece of everyone who’s been in my life, whether it’s been teachers, mentors, friends. I just want to thank everybody who’s been influential in my life.”

Li is president of Howland’s Speech and Debate team as well as varsity tennis team captain, a letter winner in track and field, vice president of Howland’s National Honor Society chapter and founder of the Mindfulness Club.

She also is founder and executive director of Empower Expression, a registered 501(c)(3) organization intended to make a positive impact on America’s youth by offering free mentoring in the arts. She hopes the recognition will help further her efforts with Empower Expression.

“I wasn’t expecting this at all, and it gives me a push to keep going with what I’ve been doing,” she said. “I really want to expand it, but it’s hard. As a student nonprofit, no one thinks you’re legitimate, so they don’t engage with you. I feel like I can use this as a push to build off of and make it better.”

Li was one of five finalists selected from the 2020 honorees. The winners were selected based on a calculation of 50 percent leadership and 25 percent each academic achievement and extracurricular activities.

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