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Glamour’s 20 Amazing Young Women: Kendall Ciesemier, Founder of Kids Caring For Kids (KC4K)

Kendall was honored as one of Glamour’s 20 Amazing Young Women at the 2010 Glamour Women of the Year Awards. Read about the other honorees here.

Name:
Kendall Ciesemier
 
Age:
17

Year in school and school:
Senior — Wheaton North High School
 
Your email address:
[email protected]
 
Your website:
www.kidscaring4kids.org
 

Your “claim to fame” – aka why you were part of Glamour’s 20 Amazing Young Women!:  I was named Glamour Mag’s Readers’ Choice Woman of the Year (Woman of Your Year) as well as one of the 20 Amazing Young Women.  I started Kids Caring 4 Kids (KC4K) when I was 11 years old to raise money and awareness for highly vulnerable children in Africa while working to inspire others to care for those in need.
 
What are you doing to change the world?
Through KC4K we have raised nearly 1 million dollars by inspiring 6,000 kids across the country to help 6,000 individuals in Africa by building community centers, providing indoor plumbing at schools, distributing bikes, drilling boreholes, feeding widows and AIDS patients, and supporting students through school.
 
What was your inspiration for this?
In December of 2003, I watched an Oprah Winfrey Christmas Special that changed my life.  Kids my age (11 at the time) were taking care of their younger siblings because both of their parents had died of AIDS.  I knew I needed to help.
 
What is a quotation or message that drives you?
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” Phillipians 4:13
 
What has been your proudest accomplishment so far?
Helping 6,000 Africans live a better life
 
At what one point did you really feel like you’d made an impact?
I received a letter from the first child I sponsored back in 2004.  She was in school for the first time, leaning to read, add and write.
 
What would you say was the “coolest” moment in your life thus far?
President Clinton held a surprise assembly in my honor during my second week of high school.  He called me up on stage and announced that I was going with him to be on the Oprah show that day.  On the Oprah show, an anonymous friend of President Clinton’s donated half a million dollars to Kids Caring 4 Kids.  I cried.
 
What is a challenge you’ve faced while trying to achieve your goals?
I began my effort during the time that I was facing two liver transplants.  My effort stemmed from me asking for donations to the cause instead of gifts.  I continue to face medical challenges that necessitate a procedure under general anesthesia every 8 weeks.
 
If someone gave you a million dollars to benefit your cause (or your research, your company, etc.) what would you use it for?
I would use it to propel the cause forward.  We so terribly need staff in order to sustain the effort when I go to college.  I would also find new awesome projects to support so we could help more people!
 
In 10 years I hope…
To be a talk-show host
 
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
Working for special Olympics
 
What 3 adjectives would people use to describe you?
Determined, Friendly, Compassionate
 
What is your biggest weakness?
I care too much about what other people think.
 
Who is your hero and why?
My hero is Bono because he cashes in his rockstar currency to create global change and he happens to make awesome music.
 
Who is your biggest cheerleader, supporting you every step of the way?
My parents and my best friend Sarah are my biggest support.  I honestly could not face it all without them.
 
Describe your idea of a perfect day.
My perfect day would consist of speaking in front of a large group of people, inspiring them to care and believe that they can make a difference.  No lie.  It is my favorite thing to do. 
 
What do you like to do outside of your work?
I enjoy spending time serving on the Kids Advisory Board of Children’s Memorial Hospital (the hospital I am treated at) in order to better the care of patients.  I am a baking enthusiast and I enjoy running for fun. I also love to write and I work as the Ed-In-Chief of my paper.
 
Which of this year’s Glamour WOTY award winners would you most like to meet and why?
Well … I did meet them.  Well …most of them.  I guess I would say Fergie because I didn’t have the opportunity to see her on the red carpet and I love her music.
 
What was your favorite part of Glamour’s WOTY Awards?
Meeting all of the other honorees!  I loved getting to know Tavi Gevinson and Tammy Tibbetts.
 
What did you wear to Glamour’s WOTY Awards?
I actually was dressed by Glamour which was really fun! Rachael Wang is a sweety! I wore a black Rebecca Taylor dress with BCBG lace tights and bootish shoes? Haha.
 
Who did you bring as your guest to Glamour’s WOTY Awards?
I brought my mom and my dad.
 
Who do you think should win a Glamour WOTY Award next year?
Taylor Swift!!!!!
 
What is your favorite thing about Glamour magazine?
They honor and recognize the advancement and achievements of women.
 
What does “glamour” mean to you?
Glamour means having the confidence to be yourself and be different.  It means that you are willing to risk having everyone’s favor in order to pursue your dreams and in order to change the world.
 
How does it feel to be honored as one of Glamour Magazine’s 20 young women who are already changing the world?
It feels great.  I am really honored and excited.  The awards left me so motivated and inspired. I actually left feeling like a bit of a slacker!
 
What advice would you give to our college women readers?
I would say just go for it, whatever it is, whatever you are passionate about.  Don’t hold back.  Make a goal.  Make a plan and do it!  Don’t wait for the approval of others.
 

Cara Sprunk has been the Managing Editor of Her Campus since fall 2009. She is a 2010 graduate of Cornell University where she majored in American Studies with a concentration in cultural studies. At Cornell Cara served as the Assistant Editor of Red Letter Daze, the weekend supplement to the Cornell Daily Sun where she also wrote for the news and arts section and blogged about pop culture. In her free time Cara enjoys reading, shopping, going to the movies, exploring and writing.  
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