• 18 under 18

    Jan. 18, 2022

    USC junior named to 18 Under Eighteen 

    Yoshna VenkataramanAn Upper St. Clair High School junior has been named among the 18 Under Eighteen honorees by Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania (JA). Yoshna Venkataraman, along with the other 17 honorees from throughout the region, will be recognized at a reception on Feb. 22, 2022, at the National Aviary.

    JA unveiled its inaugural class for 18 Under Eighteen presented by NexTier Bank on Jan. 13, 2022. The program showcases the notable talents and achievements of 18 of the region’s most incredible young people.

    “These amazing kids are entrepreneurs, social activists, scientists, entertainers and so much more,” said Patrice Matamoros, president of Junior Achievement of Western PA. “They are the innovators, progressors and providers of hope that are, and will continue to, move our region forward. JA is honored and excited to recognize these young people who make me optimistic for a bright future.”

    Nominees were evaluated in the following categories: leadership, community service, entrepreneurial spirit, extraordinary skillsets, and any talent or intangible qualities that contribute to the nominee's road to success.

    Yoshna was nominated by Dr. Stephen Torquato, Jr., Upper St. Clair High School social studies teacher, National Honor Society advisor and yearbook co-advisor.

    “Throughout her time in high school, Yoshna has developed a keen understanding of servant leadership, a passion for giving back to her community, and a drive to help others reach their own academic and service goals,” he said. “She devotes much of her free time volunteering. Whether this be through community service or assisting her peers; one thing is certain, Yoshna is dedicated to giving back and supporting those in need.”

    As a student-leader, Yoshna is involved with several organizations including Student Council, the school’s Junior Mentors program, and is the founder of the Mending Mindset, an organization that focuses on mental health awareness at USCHS.

    “Through her efforts and leadership these programs have become dedicated to creating a school environment that is comfortable and welcoming for all students,” Dr. Torquato said.

    Nominations were cast throughout western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. A diverse committee of community members reviewed each nomination and interviewed finalists to become the select 18.

    The class of 2022 features honorees ranging from age 10 to 18 who represent a unique cross section of the region, including areas outside the Pittsburgh region such as Erie, Mercer and Cambria counties.

    In addition to being recognized at an event at the National Aviary in February, JA is working to provide the 18 students with additional educational and leadership opportunities to further their skills and qualifications.

    The full list of honorees includes:

    • Makayla Alaquiva, North Allegheny School District
    • Zachary Betz, South Fayette Twp. School District
    • Isiah Davis, Sto-Rox School District
    • Jasmine Debruce, Shady Side Academy
    • Griffin Hurt, South Fayette Twp. School District
    • Elizabeth Kott, Derry Area School District
    • Anne Lindsay, Freeport Area School District
    • Morgan McCray, Oakland Catholic High School
    • Isabella Murano, Quaker Valley School District
    • Rocco Otto, Moon Area School District
    • Susannah Poese, Fairview School District
    • James Swift, Franklin Regional School District
    • Ryleigh Mackenzie Tardy, St. Edmund's Academy
    • Braden Thomas, Cambria Heights School District
    • Cynthia Torrence, Hermitage School District
    • Yoshna Venkataraman, Upper St. Clair School District
    • Isabella Walsh, Allegheny Valley School District
    • Naomi Zenmon, Pittsburgh Creative & Performing Arts High School

    Tickets to the event are on sale now, with a limited number of in-person tickets available. JA will announce a virtual ticket option via the JA website. To learn more about the 18 honorees, visit www.jawesternpa.org.