Sydney Pauta wins scholarship to Teen Vogue Summit


From left to right: Sydney Pauta, 21 Under 21 honoree Kodie Shane, and another scholarship winner at the Teen Vogue Summit in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Pauta)

By Maggie Nielsen, Reporter

Sydney Pauta, Div. 869, was in the Lane art gallery, looking at her artwork on the wall when an email notification popped up on her phone. It said, “Congrats! You won the competition!”

The competition’s prize was a scholarship to attend the Teen Vogue Summit in Los Angeles, a two day event, the first of which consisted of three sessions at companies such as YouTube Space LA, Girlboss Media, Giphy Studios and more.

The second day consisted of a mix of mentor sessions, workshops and keynote speakers such as Hillary Clinton, Yara Shahidi, Rowan Blanchard, Amandla Stenberg and Ava DuVerney.

The event was hosted by Teen Vogue on Dec. 2-3 to “empower and equip readers with inspiration, insight, tools, and connections to help pursue passions and achieve goals,” according to their website.

 “I heard about it from a coordinator of the campaign I’m working on,” Pauta said. “I saw the prices and they were like $500 tickets [for the Summit only], and that’s just really expensive. Then I got sent a link to their writing contest, which is what I applied to, and basically I had to just write a few short essays on different prompts.”

The scholarship was open to people all across the United States, but only 50 applicants were selected as winners. There were three prompts that applicants had to respond to. The first asked “Where do you feel most creative?” The second, “Why would you want to attend?” The last prompt asked to describe any sorts of activism that are present in the applicants life.

Pauta, who is a board member on the Youth Advisory Board for Planned Parenthood,  recently launched a campaign called “My Body, My Story.” The goal is to spread awareness about sexual health and birth control, while sharing teen’s stories and their experiences. She helps with the campaign’s Instagram page, @mybodymystoryppil.

Pauta flew out to Los Angeles with her mother and brother.

“There were people from New York and Florida that I met and I’m good friends with them now,” Patua said. “It’s crazy to think that we all met in this one space, where we are just connecting and sharing our stories.”

Talking to the mentors in her workshop sessions was particularly enlightening, Pauta said.

“It was the conversations that I had with the activists and creators that opened my eyes to the possibilities of helping others,” Patua said. “It’s not limited to big activism or big organizations; it’s about supporting people in your community.”

One of her favorite moments was when Hillary Clinton was interviewed by renowned actress and activist, Yara Shahidi.

“Yara is just like, beyond her years,” Pauta said. “She’s incredibly smart and everything she had to say, I just resonated with her so much.”

Pauta also learned a lot about how her activism affects her community.

“I learned that the activism I do isn’t limited to the people I can reach,” Pauta said. “It’s not just for people in Chicago; anyone in the world can see this and be impacted by it.”

According to Pauta, the summit was ultimately uplifting and inspiring.

“It gave me hope for what I’m doing and the different things that I’m a part of,” Pauta said. “I’m doing this and it might not matter because I’m only affecting two or three people, but they were like, ‘No, you’re affecting the human life, and that’s amazing.’”