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2024 McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge

On Friday, May 3, 2024, four students participated in the final portion of the McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge in downtown Raleigh. This event, in conjunction with the annual Law Day festivities held by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division and the North Carolina Bar Foundation, celebrates middle and high school students who are striving to make a difference in their communities.

Enjoy photos from this year’s event.

The goal of this Challenge is to encourage students to demonstrate qualities of good citizenship by developing the skills required to seek solutions to problems within their communities. They exhibit these skills through research, public speaking, and community action.

In order to compete, the students first submitted a 3-5 minute video discussing why they believe the problem in their community exists, identifying solutions to solve it, and selecting an organization that is working to address the problem. Volunteers from the Young Lawyers Division then graded the videos to determine the four finalists.

Last Friday’s portion of the Challenge involved the finalists presenting their speeches to three North Carolina Court of Appeals judges, former Congressman Mike McIntyre, families of the contestants, and NCBF staff. The judges that volunteered this year were Chief Judge Chris Dillon, Judge Donna Stroud, and Judge Hunter Murphy, all of whom have participated before.

The first presenter was ninth grader Meghaj Tati, who chose to focus on the difficulties some landlords are experiencing with rental fraud. In addition to causing financial and legal hardships for landlords, Tati argued that in certain situations rental fraud can expose communities to illegal activity and create unsafe neighborhoods. The nonprofit Tati identified to help combat this issue is Project Destined, which provides students with training in real estate and financial literacy.

Next was Twisha Yogindra, a seventh grader who discussed the dangers of forever chemicals in the Cape Fear River and surrounding water systems. Yogindra noted that these chemicals not only pollute the land and river, but can cause sickness and lead to death in the animals and humans that rely on this water source. The nonprofit Yogindra selected was Cape Fear River Watch – an organization created to “protect and improve the water quality of the Cape Fear River Basin”.

The third presenter was sixth grader Laney Wilson, whose speech centered on the growing number of students facing mental health problems. By listening to those in need and recognizing the harm that comes from bullying, Wilson believes that many of the emotional issues students experience can be overcome. The nonprofit Wilson identified was the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which has a helpline and support groups to assist those in need.

The final student to present was sixth grader Nithin Srinivasan. Srinivasan highlighted problems with the food quality in Wake County Public School Systems’ cafeterias. Some solutions included creating centralized kitchens and having cafeteria managers work with more than one school, both for consistency and to cut production costs. The money saved could then go towards purchasing higher quality ingredients. Srinivasan identified the nonprofit School Meals for All NC, which advocates free school meals for all students, regardless of income.

All four finalists impressed the audience with their passion, research, and presentation skills. While it was a difficult decision, the judges awarded Nithin Srinivasan with first place and Meghaj Tati with second. Donations to the organizations they identified of $1,000 and $500 will be made in thanks to the Douglas Carmichael McIntyre II Justice Fund.

We are thankful to all the assistance provided by Congressman McIntyre, Chief Judge Dillon, Judge Stroud, Judge Murphy, Ashley Oldfield, Sarah Mink, and the NCBA Young Lawyers Division.