Friday, July 27, 2007
Josh Tarasoff
A six-figure salary at a top investment bank firm in New York would be a dream for many just out of college: the money, the prestige and the possibility. But it all depends how you define "possibility." Josh Tarasoff left that banking job and the lifestyle to which he was accustomed for his own possibility.

What started as volunteering for charity on the weekend turned into a vocation for Tarasoff. Realizing the high-stress lifestyle of working on "The Street" isn't conducive to seeking out philanthropic opportunities, Tarasoff founded Wall Street Volunteers. The organization uses an online database to connect working professionals with the nonprofit world, making it easier for them to volunteer.

"It's not that financiers don't want to volunteer; it's that they didn't have the time to research what to do and where to go," Tarasoff says, aiming to debunk the notion that men and women who work on Wall Street are just concerned with profits. Since beginning in 2003, Wall Street Volunteers has developed links with 35 nonprofit organizations and has attracted 1,600 members seeking to discover, define or redefine their own possibilities.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview
Monday, July 23, 2007
Darius Weems and Logan Smalley
If you'd never left your hometown, where would you want to go? If you didn't have much time left to live, what would you do? If you told your friends, would they make it happen?

Fifteen-year-old Darius Weems has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. After watching his brother die of DMS, Weems started showing symptoms himself. He lost muscle use in his legs and eventually needed a wheelchair. When he told his friends he had always wanted to see the parts of the country he missed growing up in housing projects in Athens, Georgia, his friend Logan Smalley and Weems' other college-aged friends decided to take him. They all decided to go west.

"Darius Goes West" is a documentary chronicling a 7,000-mile cross-country journey that brings Weems to a place he had seen only in his dreams: the ocean. The group travels with the dual mission of evaluating wheelchair accessibility in the United States and raising awareness of DMD. Along the way they gain a new sense of brotherhood and create an award-winning film that shows even when life is uncertain, it can be lived with imagination and gusto.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview
Monday, July 16, 2007
Rachel Doyle
Sure, it's what's on the inside that matters. But Rachel Doyle has never seen one of her "gals" turn down some berry lipstick or cucumber facial. Doyle is the founder of GlamourGals, an organization that gives complimentary makeovers and facials to seniors.

Doyle stared GlamourGals at the age of 17 after her grandmother passed away in a nursing home. Seven years later, she has grown the organization to 50 chapters in 8 states. Aiming to bridge the gap between teens and the elderly, about 1,000 GlamourGals volunteers spend time with elderly women at nursing homes nationwide.

"Beauty transcends generations," Doyle says. She believes eye-shadow and blush are just the catalysts for conversation that can lead to a closer connection. With that goal, Doyle works to make the inside and outside matter -- one makeover at a time.


Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview
Monday, July 9, 2007
Sumaya Kazi
No matter what language you speak, where you call home or where your parents are from, success should resonate across those lines. And Sumaya Kazi is there to make sure it does. At 24, Kazi founded The CulturalConnect, a media publishing company with a series of online magazines spotlighting young minority professionals and, well, "connecting" them with each other and the nonprofit world.

As a Bangladeshi-American, Kazi started with the DesiConnect, reaching out to young movers and shakers of South Asian descent. As the interest in her site peaked, she added The AsiaConnect, The MidEastConnect, The LatinConnect, and The AfricanaConnect. Since they launched, the sites have had more than 12 million hits, attracting readers in more than 100 countries.

Another goal of the magazines is to debunk stereotypes about different minority groups. Kazi says, "Some cultures believe that you can only be a doctor or a lawyer to be successful; we are showing the world that that's not true." The CulturalConnect's staff -- successful minorities themselves, and every one under 30 -- is aiming to demonstrate just that.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview
Monday, July 2, 2007
Adora Svitak
Adora Svitak types 70 words per minute, reads two to three books per day and writes about 100 short stories and poems per year. And per our calculations, that makes Adora one prolific 9-year-old.

Adora has been known as a "literary prodigy" since her first published book, "Flying Fingers," which contains stories, poems and a step-by-step instructional manual for parents and teachers to encourage kids to write.

As the representative for Verizon's literacy campaign, Adora reaches thousands of people around the world with a message: Young people should love reading and writing.

Her passion is evident from each story she puts out on her blog or Web site -- from fantasy adventure to contemporary stories to historical fiction. Oh, the only thing she wants one of per lifetime is a Nobel Prize in literature.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview
ABOUT THIS BLOG

Young People Who Rock is a weekly interview series focused on people under 30 -- from CEOs to entertainers to athletes to community and political leaders -- who are doing remarkable things. CNN Anchor Nicole Lapin introduces them here, then interviews them Fridays on CNN.com Live. Log on in the 3 p.m. ET hour to catch the interviews.
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