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by Justine Hudock
Student Community Engagement, Knovva Academy

This girl just got a brand new red Tesla a few weeks ago. Then she was named an Exceptional Delegate. And now she’s getting interviewed for it. Alessia: can you walk me through the routine that gives back this level of good karma?

But that’s just charlatanism. Alessia of Brooklyn, New York did more than enough to earn her spot among the chosen few Exceptional Delegates at our Climate Change Summit.  And her parents footing the Tesla bill are probably just really cool, so that explains that.

If the new car isn’t proof enough of how awesome this near-driving-age kid is, try this on for size: This high schooler co-runs a mental health awareness website with a friend, where they interview real experts in the field. She’s sporty to the varsity level, a newspaper girl, a Model UN girl, and a Mock Trial girl. Her favorite book (it wasn’t even assigned reading! She just picked it up!) is the chillingly prophetic Brave New World by English author Aldous Huxley. Icing on the cake: She hates raw tomatoes. We were in complete agreement that those wet ketchup-drip spheres are plain gross. Solidarity, Alessia!

More to the core of who Alessia is, she did what most people — her own age and adults alike — seem to neglect to their cost: She took the old idiom “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and recognized the words for the truth they spoke about her own life. Alessia, if you’re reading this: That was my favorite part of this whole interview. Anyone else reading this: It’ll probably be yours, too.

Give Alessia a round of applause for her commendation as an Exceptional Delegate, and lend your eyes to her post-lauding interview!

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Justine Hudock: For opening’s sake, please tell me what your name is, where you are from, hold old you are, and what a silly fun fact about you is!

Alessia C.: My name is Alessia, I’m 16 years old. I’m from Brooklyn, New York, and a silly fun fact about me is… I hate eating raw tomatoes.

JH: We just got out of our Climate Change Summit. So I presume you had some interest in climate change going in. Can you tell me about that interest? What inspired you to join this big group of kids trying to find a solution to global climate shifts?

AC: I’d say the main thing is just the prevalence of the issue. When you listen to the news, when you read the newspaper… everything’s about climate change. My friends and I organize walkouts in protest in the city. It’s all about the encouragement from your peers and everyone else being involved, and everyone thinking that it’s such an important issue is largely what drew me to taking action.

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JH: From the smallest to the largest example you can think of, what’s one way that sustainability influences your decisions?

AC: My family was recently in the market for a new car, and I refused to drive a gasoline car, so in the end, my parents sprang for a Tesla. I didn’t want to be adding a lot of CO2 emissions by driving any car with an outdated energy source.

JH: Key takeaways from your experience at the Summit?

AC: I think one of the best things about it was just… working with people from all over the world, and to have this one common goal. Working together to come up with solutions to this massive problem. Normally, you hear about climate change from people in your own neighborhood, in your own country, where everyone’s basically impacted the same way, and we all kind of experience it to the same degree, whereas people in different countries experience it in different ways and to different degrees.

JH: Tell me about what you do in terms of other extracurriculars!

AC: In a regular school year, I’m very involved in sports. That’s kind of limited at the moment because of COVID-19. But typically, I’m on the varsity soccer team softball team. I do a lot of humanities-related extracurriculars in school: I run the student newspaper, I run Model UN, I’m part of Mock Trial. I volunteer to tutor in my free time. And a new thing I’m really proud of is that my friend and I just started a website for spreading awareness of mental illness. It’s a lot of fun to look into research, interview psychologists, all that kind of stuff.

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JH: How do you think your Model G20 experiences are going to influence your life going forward? Maybe in future schooling, or your ultimate career?

AC: I feel like, since I was, I think in middle school, I always wanted to be a lawyer, but recently, that’s kind of dropped off a little but, to where now I kind of want to be more involved in politics on the front end; maybe a journalist. I think the Model G20 Summit was great exposure for work like that: working with other representatives from different countries, and working on solutions for your country based on your economic resources, the government’s rules that are already in place, and all the different factors globally.

JH: Fun question now: If you could invent anything that would make life easier for people, what would you invent?

AC: This is kind of interesting because me and my dad were just talking about this the other day. We were spitballing this idea of having glass — glass in like a building, or what you install in a car — that could absorb sunlight like solar panels do, and be used to mine energy. Those big solar panels on top, especially in Brooklyn, they’re very protruding and unattractive, and then you only get the benefit of what you can fit on a roof. Glass would be more visually appealing and I think there’s more potential for where it could be installed.

Renewable Energy Love GIF by EnBW

JH: What’s the wisest thing anyone ever told you?

AC: I was just writing one of my college essays yesterday, and one of the prompts was exactly like this. And what I was answered with was that axiom to never judge a book by its cover. And I feel like that’s such a cliche statement, like everyone all over the world hears that. I feel like that’s something that people’s parents tell them at, like, the age of four.

You make friends, and you don’t really have prejudices against them. But I was just thinking about how it’s so true, and how most of my life, I have judged so many books by their covers, and I’ve missed out on so many opportunities and lost so many friendships over it. And I think just this piece of advice, and really applying it to my life recently, has allowed me to kind of utilize those opportunities that I may have missed if I let my prejudices deter me from them immediately.

JH: What is your own perspective on what good leadership is? And what does it mean to evolve as a leader?

AC: I think a good leader needs to respect all of the people around them; really taking into consideration and respecting the ideas of those in their group. Not showing dominance, but showing their prominence without being disrespectful or rude. As far as evolving as a leader, I think all good leaders need to be able to admit when they make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. And then as you learn from those mistakes, you evolve your own character.

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