Senior, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School
Andrew Cha watched in dismay with his family as details emerged each night on the news about the 2014 water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Then in eighth grade, Andrew had long been sensitive to the plights of the less fortunate—his father, Victor Cha, is an expert in North Korean affairs, and Andrew grew up hearing stories about human rights abuses there.
Andrew, whose family is from South Korea, wanted to help the people of Flint. His older brother, Patrick—a 2015 Extraordinary Teen Awards winner who raised funds for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013—challenged him to create an innovative and thoughtful fundraising effort. So in 2015, Andrew founded a nongovernmental organization called Serv4all and sought pledges based on the number of hours he practiced tennis. He has since raised nearly $10,000 and has traveled to Michigan to meet with residents and representatives from United Way, with which Serv4all partners.
“Driving everything I do is my desire to give a voice to those who don’t have the opportunity to speak for themselves,” says Andrew, 17, who lives in Chevy Chase.
Andrew is also co-editor of his school’s newspaper, The Tattler, and has been published in The Baltimore Sun, the Human Rights Policy Journal at Harvard, Teen Ink and Columbia University’s Journal of International Affairs. He also produces “!nDig!—A Podcast on Human Dignity and Social Justice,” which aims to raise awareness about the sex trafficking of minors.
A National Merit Scholar semifinalist and an AP Scholar with Distinction, Andrew plays on B-CC’s tennis team and teaches English every Saturday morning in Southeast Washington, D.C., to immigrants who are preparing for the U.S. citizenship exam.
David Lopilato, The Tattler’s faculty adviser, says Andrew’s intellect and ability to analyze complex issues are matched by his social intelligence, humility and work ethic. “One Friday afternoon, we were all here late, grinding away at an edition of the paper, and Andrew learned he got into Stanford,” Lopilato says. “He didn’t miss a beat. It was like, ‘That can wait. We have a paper to put out.’ ”
Andrew plans to major in Asian-American studies in college.