- Sisanda Msekele: A young South African woman who was orphaned, and later lost her eyesight at age 18. She passed her Matric with four distinctions, is a national rowing champion, graduated from university and is now employed in the coporate sector.
- Phetheni Sibiya: A 73-year old pensioner from KZN who started her own recycling business and collected 42 000 tons of rubbish in 16 months.
- Xolane Ngobozana: A young South African man launched the National Donate a Schoolbag Campaign at the beginning of this year to help ease the burdens of the South African education system. Ngobozana and his team of provincial coordinators have raised 350 schoolbags and some stationery, which were donated to underprivileged learners and child-headed homes in Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal.
- Michael Jerome Oher : Michael Jerome Williams, Jr. was one of 12 children born to Denise Oher. His mother was an alcoholic and crack cocaine addict, and his father, Michael Jerome Williams, was frequently in prison. He repeated both first and second grades, and attended eleven different schools during his first nine years as a student. He was placed in foster care at age seven, and alternated between living in various foster homes and periods of homelessness. On March 14, 2014, Oher signed a four year, $20 million contract with the Tennessee Titans.
- Bethany Meilani Hamilton Dirks is an American professional surfer who survived a 2003 shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off, but ultimately returned to—and was victorious in—professional surfing. She wrote about her experience in the 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. In April 2011, the feature film Soul Surfer was released; it was based on the book and additional interviews. She has appeared on many television shows since the loss of her arm.
- Gac Filipaj: For years, Gac Filipaj mopped floors, cleaned toilets and took out trash at Columbia University. A refugee from war-torn Yugoslavia, he eked out a living working for the Ivy League school. But Sunday was payback time: The 52-year-old janitor donned a cap and gown to graduate with a bachelor's degree in classics.
- Jacob Atem: At age six, after his parents were killed in the Sudanese Civil War, Jacob Atem walked thousands of miles from Sudan to Ethiopia as the beginning of a harrowing nine-year odyssey through East African refugee camps. When he was eventually selected for a programme to bring orphaned boys like him to the U.S., he didn’t know where the U.S. was. But he thrived, mastering English, graduating from Michigan’s Spring Arbor University, and—after founding the Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization in 2008—and has started his studies toward a Ph.D. in health services at the University of Florida.
- Khadijah Williams: By the time she turned 18, Khadijah Williams had attended twelve schools in as many years. She had lived in shelters, in parks and in motels, never in a permanent residence for more than a few months. She had endured the leering of pimps and drug dealers, and the tauntings of students at a dozen schools who pegged her as “different.” But in 2009, at age 18, Khadijah had also been accepted at Harvard University.
- Jessica Cox: Jessica Cox suffered a rare birth defect and was born without any arms. The psychology graduate can write, type, drive a car, brush her hair and talk on her phone simply using her feet. Ms Cox is also a former dancer and double black belt in Tai Kwon-Do. She has a no-restrictions driving license, she flies planes and she can type 25 words a minute.
- Kelvin Doe: Kelvin Doe is a self-taught engineer from Sierra Leone, West Africa. In his hometown, "the lights come on once in a week, and the rest of the month, dark”. From metal and wire scraps, he made a battery to "power lights in people’s houses," an FM radio transmitter to disseminate news and a generator to power the device. This year, the young prodigy was invited to MIT as a guest resident by David Sengeh, a Ph.D. student at the research university's media lab. Doe became the youngest invitee to the Visiting Practitioner’s Program for international development. Sengeh believes Doe and the inspired youth of Sierra Leone can transform their country. For his next project, Doe plans to build a electricity-generating windmill for his community.D
- Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and 15-year-old Bello Eniola: Four Nigerian schoolgirls aged 14 to 15, created a urine-powered generator that can turn a liter of urine into nearly six hours of electricity. The simple generator separates urine into nitrogen, hydrogen and water. The process turns the plentiful waste product into power. The R640 prototype could help Nigeria's 160 million citizens without access to electricity.
- Ben Underwood: Ben Underwood was a remarkable teenager, who loved to skateboard, ride his bicycle and play football and basketball. For the most part, the Californian 14-year-old was just like other kids his age. What made Underwood remarkable was his ability to master these activities despite the fact that he was blind. Underwood had both eyes removed after being diagnosed with retinal cancer at age two. To most people's amazement upon meeting him, he seemed completely unfazed by his lack of sight, defying common stereotypes about blindness as a disability. So how did he do it? The answer is echolocation: the sonar navigation technique used by bats, dolphins, several other mammals and some birds. As Underwood moved about, he habitually made clicking noises with his tongue; these sounds bounced off surfaces and, with each return, added to Underwood's perception of his surroundings. He was so good at it that he could tell the difference between a fire hydrant and a rubbish bin, distinguish between parked cars and trucks, and — if you took him to a house he had never been to before — he would tell you he could 'see' a staircase in that corner and a kitchen in the other. He could even distinguish between different materials. Cancer spread to Ben's brain and spine. He eventually died on January 2009 at the age of 16.
- Nick Vujicic: Nick Vujicic was born in Melbourne, Australia with the rare Tetra-amelia disorder: limbless, missing both arms at shoulder level, and having one small foot with two toes protruding from his left thigh. Despite the absence of limbs, he is doing surf and swimming, and playing golf and soccer. Nick graduated from college at the age of 21 with a double major in Accounting and Financial Planning. He began his travels as a motivational speaker, focusing on the topics that today's teenagers face.
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