School: Archbishop Molloy High School
Platform: Be the Cure: Ending Pediatric Cancer
Cayla Kumar is a vivacious 14-year old with passions for service, academics, leadership, and dance. She is proud to call Queens, New York her home!
Inspired by the loss of a great grandmother to breast cancer and the diagnosis of a younger cousin with brain cancer, Cayla aspires to become a pediatric oncologist. However, she recognizes that she does not have to wait until she graduates from medical school to start making a difference! Consequently, Cayla became the first official youth ambassador for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, inspiring each of the youth ambassadors who have come after her, to help raise $2.7 million dollars to fund a new wing at the hospital (Cayla herself has helped to raise over $30,000 by traveling to different events across the country). Furthermore, Cayla has become an active volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House and with other cancer-related organizations, hoping to inspire others to ‘be the cure’ in their own way. At the Ronald McDonald House, Cayla thoroughly enjoys baking goods and cooking meals to share with the hospitalized kids and their families. She also created cards to help put a smile on the faces of both kids and their families. Each weekend that she volunteers, Cayla loves to bring new partners with her, encouraging her classmates, pageant sisters, dance teammates, and others to join her as she works to make a difference.
Most recently, Cayla developed the Gold Ribbon Project, to help increase awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research. More specifically, Cayla sells gold ribbons (gold is the color of pediatric cancer awareness) for people to wear on their lapels, with the hope that more people will be encouraged to learn more about pediatric cancer, the most underfunded area of all cancer research areas. Because of her service with St. Jude’s and multiple other endeavors, Cayla is well on her way to achieving her sixth, Gold level, President’s Volunteer Service Award and additional recognitions from the Governor of New York. Such recognitions have earned her media interviews and features, as well.
Even though Cayla spends much of her time volunteering and developing her personal skills, Cayla’s academics have continued to flourish, as she is a full, 4-year scholarship recipient at the prestigious Archbishop Molloy High School. At her middle school, Cayla previously served as the Student Government President, a Peer Monitor, and a Mentoring Club Member. She was also honored with the 3C Award, the Our Lady of Lourdes Service Award, the Public Advocate of New York Award, and the Overall Spanish Student Award at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Academy.
One of her greatest kept secrets is her passion for fashion! In fact, March 2013, she modeled in the NYC Kids Petite Parade Fashion Week and for Target. Cayla has also modeled for one of India’s biggest fashion designers in both Chicago and New York and she was featured in a Scholastic Kids ad as a youth model.
Closest to her heart is her passion for music and dance, which she exhibited at an early age. For the past ten years, Cayla has been a devoted student of both classical and Bollywood styles of Indian dance. As a proud, first-generation American, Cayla believes that her devoted study of the art of Indian dance is useful, not just as a talent to compete with, but also as a talent to share with the world to increase the understanding of cultural diversity and to put a smile on people’s faces when they see her true happiness exuding through each of her performances.
Cayla thoroughly enjoys being an ambassador for service, leadership, academics, and her culture. She cordially invites everyone to join her in her volunteer efforts across New York, to purchase a gold lapel ribbon, and to ‘be the cure’ in their own way.