Updated: Oct. 21, 2017 at 11 a.m.
Not all college students can say they were published by the White House’s official blog or that they started a nationwide charity backed by celebrities. But those accomplishments top the resumes of two students selected as some of the country’s most inspirational women last week.
Junior Jazmin Kay and sophomore Jen Rubino were featured on the annual 22 Under 22 Most Inspiring College Women list published by Her Campus Media last week. Kay and Rubino were picked for the media brand’s list out of more than 1,000 nominations.
Kay and Rubino are featured among other women from colleges all over the United States who have shown commitments to everything from fighting to end world hunger to empowering women through self-defense.
Kay, a junior majoring in political science, said her desire to use writing to empower others helped her earn a spot on the list.
“I used to write these stories about world peace and how I wanted to change the world,” Kay said. “I always did that because I was passionate and I wanted to go out there and I really thought that those words were somehow going to help people.”
Kay said she was proud to receive the acknowledgement for serving as president of GW College Democrats and having pieces she wrote about climate change and the refugee crisis published on the White House blog when she was an intern there. Kay said the recognition can show other students that their actions can make a difference.
“One of the most important things for me is empowering young people to realize that their voice does matter,” Kay said. “I think that we have a tendency as young people to talk a lot, which is awesome, but I think being able to take things into action is something that is really important.”
Jen Rubino, a sophomore who transferred from Georgetown University, said she was honored for the nationwide charity she created when she was in high school.
More than a decade ago, Rubino was diagnosed with a childhood connective tissue and bone disease and since then, she has undergone more than 20 surgeries. Her charity, Cards for Hospitalized Kids, was inspired by a trip to the hospital Rubino took in 2011 when a hospital volunteer gave her a homemade get-well card and she wanted to create the same experience for other kids.
“Until you’ve been in that situation, I don’t think that you can truly understand how much it means to get a card and how much it means to the families as well,” Rubino said.
The charity started out as Rubino and a couple of classmates sending cards to children in local hospitals, but it has grown into a charity that sends more than 100,000 cards to children in all 50 states. Since the charity started six years ago, celebrities like Lauren Conrad and gymnast Aly Raisman have supported the charity by sending autographs.
When Rubino moved from Illinois to the District for college, she added a staff of 30 volunteers in order to maintain the charity and triple the number of cards sent by the organization each month.
“It’s something that seems really simple, but it really truly means the world to them,” Rubino said. “It means a lot, not just that day, but for a very long time to come.”