They are scientists, athletes, and philanthropists. They are daughters and friends. They are Glamour's Top 10 College Women of 2015:
1) Shree Bose
At Harvard she realized no toy sparked early interest in tech the way the toy microscope had inspired her, so she cocreated Piper, a build-it-yourself computer that teaches programming through the kid-friendly game Minecraft. Bose raised $100,000 on Kickstarter in only five days, which has allowed her to pilot Piper in schools from Atlanta to India. "I want to show the world how cool science is—basically, to be the Oprah of science!"
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Bose spoke to Holly Gordon, cofounder of girls' education campaign Girl Rising, who told her: "Be patient with yourself and your idea. And listen to your gut. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it."
2) Lily Herman
Guidance counselors rarely fill the void: "Public high schools average 471 students to one counselor," she says. So, during late nights fueled by Sour Patch Kids, she cofounded theprospect.net, a free site that's been used by roughly 600,000 students and offers the lowdown on the admissions process. "A student with non-English-speaking parents emailed me, 'I got into Princeton, thanks to The Prospect!'" she says. "That was as exciting as my own acceptance letter."
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Herman spoke to Rachel Sklar, cofounder of networking site theli.st. Sklar's advice for her (and us!): "Fear is not a reason to not do something."
3) Vanessa Alejandro
Today Alejandro and her team of 14 volunteers have educated more than 4,000 students via field trips and skits (starring a bird named Jack Sparrow). Then, in 2012, she faced a very personal setback: thyroid cancer. But rather than let it slow her down, she got her next big idea while undergoing radioactive iodine therapy—a plan to build a community playground that would be an outdoor "exploratorium" for schools without lab equipment.
Now cancer-free for nearly two years, Alejandro draws energy from the invincible feeling she gets on tough hikes. "My dream is to help villages, towns, even countries grow in an environmentally sustainable way. In other words, to be the next Jane Goodall!"
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Alejandro spoke to Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace, who offered this: "Find a workplace where your ideals are welcome. And call us when you graduate!"
4) Elizabeth Brajevich
Don't be alarmed: She's the founder of Worms Eat My Garbage, a campuswide composting initiative. Brajevich first got the idea from Ranger Rick magazine; "I convinced my grandma to fund my inaugural order," she says. MSU, however, was harder to win over. But thanks to grassroots support ("peace, love, worms stickers are everywhere"), students now compost coffee grounds and apple cores in their rooms, and the soil helps grow produce for MSU's cafeterias.
"I think of myself as a bit Mother Teresa, a lot Erin Brockovich," she says. "I hope our instinct is to send waste to worms, not landfills."
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Brajevich spoke to eco-activist Laurie David, who said: "Pick an issue and direct all your energy toward it."
5) Mariah Stackhouse
The victories didn't stop there: Stackhouse has competed at the U.S. Open twice, and last year she led the U.S. to victory as the first African American player in the Curtis Cup, a biennial matchup among the U.S., Great Britain, and Ireland. She's on the links at Stanford too, where she has set scoring records (tying Tiger Woods) and played with Condoleezza Rice ("We didn't keep score," Stackhouse says, laughing).
The public-speaking pro (her pregame speeches motivate her teammates) hopes to pursue a career in broadcast journalism; for now she has her sights on the LPGA: "Preparing myself to play on tour with the world's best women is my driving focus every day."
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Stackhouse spoke to pro golfer Stacy Lewis, who told her to surround herself with people she trusts: "They'll tell you the good and the bad. We all need that."
6) Mansi Prakash
Four years later at NYU, Prakash founded the nonprofit Brighter Today and partnered with bulb manufacturer Philips, which donates bulbs and supports development of Prakash's next project, a solar panel prototype to bring light to homes without electricity. "I often think about a girl I met while installing bulbs," she says. "She longed to go to school, but her parents couldn't afford it. Once they started saving on their energy bill, they could. She is why I do this. It's her life I want to change."
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Prakash spoke with Warby Parker cofounder Dave Gilboa. His message: "When starting a company, establish your core values early. They will define everything."
7) Olivia Pavco-Giaccia
"It's not about the sparkles," she says. "I want to show scientists come in all stripes; they're not just old men in white coats." Her dream? To work with the White House Council on Women and Girls.
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Pavco-Giaccia spoke to Debbie Sterling, founder of GoldieBlox, who urged her to be bold: "Sharing my passion took my idea to the next level."
8) Nicole Acton
Acton's scripts have won three national competitions; her play War debuted in New York City in 2014. Acton's goal? "I hope to be a Broadway playwright or director, creating plays that impact society."
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Acton spoke with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, who said: "A professor once told me, 'Find your fellow travelers.' In 20 years those peers will be leaders in your field."
9) Meghan Warner
Last year she joined a federal complaint against UC Berkeley that alleged that the school mishandled sexual assault cases. And today, as director of Berkeley's sexual assault commission, Warner has helped make a difference; the school has hired an advocate for survivors. "I want to be the modern Gloria Steinem—spreading the necessity for consent and justice," she says.
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Warner spoke to Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who had these words for pursuing any goal: "I wish I hadn't been so worried about what other people thought. Strength in the face of insecurity will always prevail."
10) Divya Ramamoorthy
"By manipulating cells using things like magnets, I'm investigating how to produce a living network of heart cells," she says. It's slow work ("We fail over and over"), but Ramamoorthy and the research team have seen cells beat together. "When I showed the video to my family," she says, "they finally understood what I was doing."
We teamed her with: Glamour introduced all our winners to mentors in their respective fields. Ramamoorthy spoke to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., who said: "I began my first nonprofit at 17. I learned you're never too young or too old to create change."