News — August 31, 2017

Announcing the 2017 JCI TOYP Honorees

Through innovative actions, extraordinary achievement and dedication to serving others, the 2017 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (JCI TOYP) Honorees create sustainable impact in their communities and across the globe. Each year, JCI honors ten outstanding young people under the age of 40. These young active citizens exemplify the spirit of the JCI Mission and provide exemplary service to their communities, serving as honorable young active citizens.

JCI members and active citizens from around the world voted online to participate in selecting the 2017 JCI TOYP Honorees. Along with the final judging panel, comprised of representatives of select partner organizations and 2017 JCI President Dawn Hetzel, the online votes helped determine the winning honorees. After nearly 30,000 votes were cast and the judging panel reviewed the top 20 finalists, ten young active citizens were selected to receive this honor for exceptional service, creativity and the positive change they have created in their communities and the world.

Get to know the 2017 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World.

Massa Aboujeib

Contribution to children, world peace and or human rights

While presented with the option to flee, Massa Aboujeib chose to stay in Syria in hopes of rebuilding and shaping the lives of others. Seeking to provide psychological support through art, she was the first pioneer to utilize art therapy in her country. Through this concept, she launched “Art Therapy and Puppet Making,” an initiative that is working to provide a universal language of love and peace. While generally seen as a modern arena in the Middle East and especially in Syria, she has mobilized art therapy and sought the collaboration of professionals and experts to organize workshops on the concept. Her dedication to the children of Syria has resulted in several other initiatives that are allowing creative expression through technical, artistic, dramatic and musical exercises. Despite trials, she understands that growth doesn’t occur when things are easy but when we are in the face of challenges.

Imrana Alhaji Buba

Contribution to children, world peace and or human rights

For Imrana Alhaji Buba, the danger of war has been all too real, having torn his family and once thriving community apart. In 2010, rather than continuing to live in fear, Buba used his personal tragedy to fuel his journey to making peace possible once again. His efforts led to the founding of the Youth Coalition Against Terrorism (YOCAT), a volunteer based youth-led organization working to unite youth against violent extremism in north-eastern Nigeria. With more than 600 coalition members, YOCAT aims to end terrorism and religious extremism through the organization of enlightenment and empowerment programs for young people. While often those that mobilize against extremism are frequently met with execution, Buba has stayed strong in his mission to stand up for the lives of others and their communities.

Steven Claeys

Business, economic and or entrepreneurial accomplishment

After a tragedy left him paralyzed from the chest down, Steven Claeys found himself in an extremely fragile state of health. However, despite all his challenges, he uncovered the courage and energy to use his story to impact others’ lives. Harnessing his youth and new lease on life, Claeys started the blog that tackles honest and taboo topics, appealing to those in similar situations by talking candidly about the challenges he faces. The blog successfully reached more than 30,000 views in the first 18 months following its launch, demonstrating its tremendous influence. Furthering his entrepreneurial endeavors, he developed an adaptable pair of pants called Sitwear specially designed for those in wheelchairs. He is now the founder and CEO of, a nonprofit webshop for people with a seated lifestyle, where he sells Sitwear and several other established brands that empower independence and inspire confidence in the wearer. Through entrepreneurship and innovation, Claeys has reached beyond his difficulties and grasped ahold of a new path in his life, one that is focused on equipping others with the strength to be themselves.

Engin Durgun

Academic leadership and/or accomplishment

Dr. Durgun’s profound educational background has allowed him to explore vast opportunities in the areas of science and nanotechnology including the application of state-of-the-art computational techniques such as spintronics—technology based on the use of electrons and spin—to greatly increase the performance of today’s electrical devices. After accepting an offer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) he begun to focus on environmental issues related to cement chemistry which led him to the discovery that when you increase the reactivity of cement by means of nano-technology, both carbon emission and energy consumption can be reduced, leading to a new generation of environment-friendly cement. Looking to further his impact, Dr. Durgun joined the National Nanotechnology Research Center (UNAM)—a center focused on the advancement of nanotechnology—where he is working as vice-director contributing to the centers evolvement and investigating 2-dimensional materials. As a leader in scientific development, Dr. Durgun believes that if science can lead the charge we have the opportunity to prevent global issues before they arise.

Adepeju Opeyemi Jaiyeoba

Medical innovation

Living in a country with one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, AdepejuJaiyeoba sought out to address the challenge of inaccessible, unaffordable healthcare by increasing the number of people with critical maternal medicine skills. It was this idea that led her to launch the Brown Button Foundation, which has trained nearly 45,000 birth attendants on modern medical skills. As supplies are equally as critical as training, she developed the Mother’s Delivery Kit Ventures, which specializes in manufacturing and distributing simple yet critical childbirth delivery kits. Today, more than 33 Nigerian states and 300,000 women and babies have received these lifesaving supplies. Her efforts have been recognized by international health institutes and global leaders, drawing important attention to these preventable challenges that gravely affect third world countries. While there is still much progress to be made in ensuring healthy lives and promoting every individual’s well-being, Jaiyeoba demonstrates that one person’s actions are powerful enough to craft live-saving solutions for many.

Ahmet Kuzubasli

Business, economic, and or entrepreneurial accomplishment

Starting from childhood, Ahmet Kuzubasli became fascinated with the “magic” behind how devices work, making it a childhood goal to someday be an electronics engineer. His perseverance never ceased and his work didn’t go unrecognized. It was his university studies at the Middle East Technical University (METU) and design of a specialized microchip to be used in RADAR systems that landed him the support of one of the world’s most prestigious military companies. Based on his radar studies, Kuzubasli invented and patented a technology that has the capabilities to detect contaminations in water, a leading cause of death. To expand his impact, he founded a high tech start up RF-SENS Elektronik and with his team, successfully developed a biosensor product called ColiSense, that is consumer-friendly and uses radio frequency radar waves and nanofabrication techniques to detect E.coli bacteria in water within minutes. Kuzubasli has not only surpassed his own expectations but is using his inventions to propel sustainable development through electrical technology globally.

Harry McCann

Business, economic and or entrepreneurial accomplishment

Determined to make a difference in the digital world, Henry McCann founded KidTech—a successful business aiming to teach the next generation tech. In a timespan of only sixteen months, he managed to design several unique coding courses tailored to children. He has since taught more than 800 children across Ireland, utilizing both his experiences and skills to enhance the children’s development, encouraging them to follow their dreams, overcome failure and make the world a better place through technological advancements. Furthermore, McCann founded the first Digital Youth Council in the world. As director, he works with governments and industry leaders to ensure that youth are involved in influencing the future of the STEM sector both in Ireland and Europe. He is also an Executive Director for an Irish Enterprise and an advisor to the Irish Government on several subjects including data protection. His efforts have shown that young digital entrepreneurs have the ability to do more than just talk but ultimately build the future.

Anna Rukko

Name: Anna Rukko

Humanitarian and or voluntary leadership

Facing a cancer diagnosis at the age of 11, Anna Rukko underwent treatment for more than two years. During her time in the hospital, her focus expanded beyond her recovery as she discovered that the hospital was overcrowded and lacked comfort for patients and it was her own experiences that motivated her to make a difference. During her recovery, she participated in several charity projects. Determined to not let her age or disease be a barrier, Rukko activated her very own jewelry making campaign, garnering national attention and raising more than US $71,000 for the New Children’s Hospital. Rukko has initiated a scholarship program for young cancer patients, already awarding over 200 students with support focused on reintegrating back into schooling post-treatment. Recently elected as the youngest member of the Espoo City Council — the second largest city in Finland — she has proven that young age is not an obstacle but an opportunity to bring a powerful and fresh perspective to the table.

Professor Oscar Franklin Barcelona Tan

Political, legal and or governmental affairs

As a lawyer, Professor Oscar Tan decided to turn his legal expertise into a thriving career in journalism, becoming the Philippines youngest public intellectual, offering exclusive and insightful content to the citizens of his country. Tackling controversial issues, Prof. Tan has created a shift in the way that news is being told in the Philippines. He has curated stories on the effects of martial law in the Philippines, discussed pressing issues like same sex marriage and brought light to corruption in politics. Though he has published more than 200 columns, Prof. Tan has not gone without his share of difficulties, including overcoming cultural barriers and lack of mentorship as he worked to grow his readership and impact. Whether being cited in Supreme Court decisions, testifying before Congress or advocating for women’s rights, Prof. Tan is proving that the power of words shows no limits and that civil society owns an authoritative voice in the decisions of their community.

Darco Vieira Cristiano  

Humanitarian and or voluntary leadership

As a social worker, Darco Cristiano specializes in aiding the at-risk homeless community by referring them to hospitals, shelters and health outreach centers but he realized that there was more to be done in his efforts to help the homeless community than refer and that was to reunite. Looking to increase his efforts he began to collaborate with the Missing Persons Police Department which allowed him access to a database for missing persons, giving way to the creation of the Specialized Department of Family Location and Missing Persons (DELF’D). Using the DELF’D database, Cristiano cross references names in the database with those living on the streets attempting to locate those individuals and reunite them with their family, as well as their roots and identity. Cristiano has assisted in finding more than 1600 individuals and unified over 365 families. As an advocate for the homeless and a dedicated humanitarian, Cristiano continues to serve as a beacon of light to the most vulnerable individuals and regions of his city.

Congratulate the TOYP Honorees at the 2017 JCI Awards Ceremony featuring the 2017 JCI TOYP Honorees on 9 November 2017 during the JCI World Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

 Be sure to also attend the JCI TOYP Honoree Workshop also taking place on 9 November 2017 to meet the honorees face-to-face. Just like all JCI members, the JCI TOYP Honorees take action in their communities, creating sustainable solutions for a better world. In this workshop, Congress delegates will have the opportunity to meet, work and share ideas with these ten inspirational individuals. To solve the greatest challenges of our time, collaboration amongst young active citizens is key. Don’t miss this exciting program and return home to your fellow members with fresh ideas and solutions for taking impactful action, just like these Honorees.

Learn more about World Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and register today!

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