By: Jason Cohen
A Millburn resident was recently recognized for his dedication to helping others and giving back.
On Aug. 15, Ranen Miao, 18, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, received the Young Heroes Award at the National Liberty Museum (NLM) in Philadelphia. He was one of 13 recipients and three from New Jersey.
“It was such an honor to be seen as a community leader,” Miao said.
The Young Heroes Award recognizes young people who have taken action to make positive social change in their schools and communities. Each year the NLM looks for young people who have engaged in civic activities; promoted respectful resolutions to conflict; advocated for diversity and inclusive environments for everyone; and taken leadership roles in their school or community.
All winners receive recognition at an awards ceremony at the Museum. Their stories are featured for one year in a museum exhibit. They receive a certificate of achievement, medallion and other gifts. They may also have the opportunity to represent this program at future museum events.
Miao told the Millburn News he did not know about the award until the museum emailed him. It turns out his government teacher Brian Raymond nominated him.
“I’m really grateful for him,” he remarked.
Miao was the president of Millburn High School’s Key Club and was one of 12 members of the USA Debate Team. He was an officer for his school’s High School Democrats of America club, peer leaders program, Debate team, Make A Wish club and edited for his school newspaper. He also organized food drives, 4k races for charity and helped run a program where youths assisted seniors with shoveling snow for them.
Furthermore, he was one of two New Jersey representatives who were selected to participate in the 57th annual USSYP Washington Week in March. He was chosen from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegations who also each received a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.
“Our family has always valued community service and service in general, which is why I think I became more passionate and devoted to giving back to my community,” he explained.
The youngster is passionate about politics and activism and feels they are both important because they involve helping people.
“I don’t think you need to flaunt community service because the goal of it is giving back,” Miao said.
In addition to receiving the Young Heroes Award, he was also bestowed with the Spark Award for Innovation, Creativity, Perseverance and Respect. This was created in memory of Alan Holmes Johnson-McNutt, who was the manager of outreach for the National Liberty Museum. The award was given to him by Johnson-McNutt’s parents, Gary and Debbie Johnson-McNutt.
He chatted with his family and learned about the selfless person their son was.
“I felt very honored that his family chose me,” he said.