Upon discovering she had cancer at just 11 years old, Arianna Smith spent a grueling five years dividing her time between her home in LaGrange, Indiana, and the hospital where she received treatment. With few social outlets, Arianna’s lifeline was her computer, which is where she first discovered coding and developed an interest in computer science. “I taught myself how to code, and when I was allowed to go back to school in my sophomore year, I joined 4‑H’s Spark Club which allowed me to pursue my passion for coding.”
Fighting cancer as a child fueled Arianna’s passion for app development, which she intends to create to help people who are struggling with similar experiences.
Alongside her twin sister, Kiara, who wants to be a doctor to help patients like her sister, Arianna is giving back to her community through 4‑H. “It feels wonderful to be bringing computer science into my town. 4‑H has a great impact on the youth in my community and I love being a part of that! I know I’ll be able to use the skills I’ve learned and the confidence I’ve developed through 4‑H to make a difference and really help people.”
Kiara’s story begins when her twin sister, Arianna, was diagnosed with cancer at age 11. For five years Kiara and her family battled cancer alongside Arianna. Watching and hoping for a cure wasn’t enough for Kiara, who realized her passion for medicine and the people who saved her sister’s life.
Kiara’s desire to become a doctor to help patients like her sister, paired with her sister’s desire to limit barriers to healthcare, Kiara and Arianna hatched an idea for an app to make affordable healthcare accessible for people in rural communities.
“I know first-hand how difficult it is to find affordable healthcare when you live in a rural community, so my ambition is to build an app that will allow people to find the care they need, when they need it.”
When Nosa Akol arrived in Binghampton, New York from the South Sudan, it was quickly made clear to her that she was an outsider. “I became the target of bullies from the very first day of 6th grade. Older children would throw rocks at me and call me names. I became afraid of people and lost confidence in myself. I avoided interactions as much as I could – even with my own family, and I felt insecure, angry and alone.” Fortunately, all that changed when she found 4‑H.
“4‑H has had such a positive, life-changing impact on me, both in the way I view myself and the way I view potential obstacles. My mentors and fellow 4‑H’ers have helped me to believe in myself, and I love being able to pay that forward to help others.”