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Aparna Ramakrishnan

Founder and President

My name is Aparna Ramakrishnan and I am a junior at Naperville Central High School.

I am the captain of the girl's golf team, part of the badminton team, Model United Nations, ambassadors club, and junior class council to name a few. I have struggled with my mental health ever since the 7th grade when I started exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and depression. It took me over 4 years to get diagnosed. Once I was finally able to get the help I needed, I reflected on why it took me so long to reach out and recognize my symptoms. This is how Beyond Charity was born. Mental health has ow become my passion, advocating for those who are unable to speak out for themselves, educate others on mental health so they are able to recognize signs and symptoms, and research effective apps that can support those struggling. Beyond Charity has even submitted a bill (HB1778) to the Illinois Senate, which mandates that suicide prevention lines be put on the backs of student identification cards. I want to change the face of mental health, so nobody has to struggle for as long as I did, so that nobody has to feel alone, and so that nobody loses hope. 

Luka Sereci

Vice President

 My name is Luka Sereci and I am a junior at Naperville Central High School. I participate in both club and school volleyball but am also in other clubs such as the alumni committee and DECA (a business club). Mental health has had a big impact on me. I have battled through the stages of depression and anxiety. This resulted in months of therapy and made school much more difficult. I hope to help others find a healthy way to cope with mental illness because going through it alone is an obstacle no kid should have to face. I hope that I can be a part of this organization which helps enable kids to live a happier and healthier lifestyle. 

Anna Schmidt

Outreach Director and Sports Presentation Lead

My name is Anna Schmidt and I am a junior at Naperville Central High School. I participate in many activities such as the volleyball team, basketball team, track team, and ambassadors club. Coming from a small private school I was overwhelmed with all of the choices high school had to offer. I became very anxious about friends and classes, however, I found the right group of friends and everything fell into place. My friends and I helped each other out and it really helped me focus on the good things the high school has to offer. I want to help others because I think mental health is talked about a lot, but there is no action taking place. I want to help others know that it is okay to feel overwhelmed, but it is how you confront and deal with it that will make a difference. 

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Katie Dalton

Marketer

Hi, my name is Katie Dalton and I am a Junior at Naperville Central High School. I participate in soccer for club and high school, Central Times, Hawk TV, Student Advisory Council, Rotary Club. Mental health affected me in my transition to high school because I became way more anxious. I became more anxious due to a full schedule, grades, and the pressure to be great in sports. I want to help others because I want others to know that mental health is normal and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

Lathika Potnuru

Social Media Manager

My name is Lathika Potnuru and I am a junior at Naperville Central High School. I’m a board member for GEMS (girls’ STEM club), part of LINK leaders, Rotary, Mu Alpha Theta (A math honors society), Merry Tutors, and the badminton team. In the past, I was physically and emotionally bullied by someone who I thought of as a friend and it ended up taking a big toll on my mental health. I didn’t realize the signs until it became physical, and I blamed myself for it years after it happened. Recently, I realized that some of my tendencies, including saying sorry too much and feeling like everybody is angry with me, are a result of that. Even though I now know it wasn’t my fault, I can’t change these habits since they’ve become second nature. There are so many teens and adolescents like me who don’t realize what can affect their mental health, how to cope with it, and how to avoid behaviors and thoughts that have negative effects on them. I want to prevent my experience from happening to anyone else by spreading mental health awareness through presentations and social media!

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Kyle Rose

Lead Presenter

My name is Kyle Rose and I am a sophomore at Naperville Central High School. I participate in cross country, track, and basketball through school and look forward to joining JSA when I have more time. I struggled a lot with my self-consciousness and that manifested itself, at times making me refuse to have fun and leave my house because I didn't feel good enough. I want to help people get out of feeling the way I did and help them learn to love themselves for who they are. It is okay to have bad mental health days, but you should continue to work on yourself and get better.

Resse Dezur

Presenter

Hi, my name is Resse DeZur and I am a junior at Naperville Central High School. I participate in Swimming and Water Polo. Mental health has been a huge part of my life since middle school. I got diagnosed with OCD when I was in 5th grade, so it affected me all through middle school. sophomore year I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and had a really hard time during my night school swim season and winter swim season. I’ve gotten tons of help throughout 2020 and 2019 and very proud of where I am now and happy I can talk about it.I want to help others through their hard times because it was hard for me to talk to someone about what was going on in my life and how I felt. I’m not very good at expressing my emotions and telling people how I feel, so I want to be someone who can help other people who are just like me. I also want to educate people on what OCD really is and what it’s like living with it. tons of people live with OCD and have no idea they have it, which can cause a lot of damage if not treated. I want others to know they are not alone through hard times and be someone they can come to.

Reagan Black

Presenter

 My name is Reagan Black and I am a junior at Naperville Central High School. I am involved in the marching band, FFA, youth group, and hopefully ultimate frisbee after my surgery! I had warning signs of a mental health condition early on in my childhood that wasn't recognized, and when it finally got out of control I felt like my life was slowly falling apart at the seams. Overall, my mental health conditions have made me more empathetic and more willing to be available to others because I know how hard it is to always feel alone and struggling. I want to help others because I didn't have a large support system when I was going through my mental health journey. My friends didn't understand, my parents didn't know how to help, and my school wasn't doing what they needed to support me. I want others to have the information and resources they need to get better, there is no other way to put it then it just sucks. I hope through this initiative we will be able to encourage others to be able to accept themselves and explore materials to help them heal. 

Sophia Hayes

My name is Sophia Hayes, and I am a sophomore at Naperville Central. I am on the swim and water polo team. Going into freshman year, it was a stressful transition. and overall it was not easy. But throughout the year, I learned how to cope with stress and learned ways to deal with it better. My goal is to help others improve their mental health through sharing my story, helping others learn coping skills, and ensure others they are not alone through the transition into high school. 

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Marissa Geovanes

Presenter

Hi! My name Is Marissa Geovanes and I’m a junior at Naperville Central High School. At Central, I am a part of the lacrosse team as well as a LINK leader. Mental health has played a big role in my life for as long as I can remember. A severe anxiety disorder surfaced at a young age, taking the form of a shot phobia. When I was nine, I started attending therapy as a way to deal with the phobia. However, as I got older, my anxiety progressively got worse. Simple tasks like taking tests, cleaning my room, sleeping, and socializing would induce panic attacks. After years of going to therapy and searching for coping strategies, I am now able to find healthy ways to manage my anxiety. With my most recent diagnosis of ADHD, I have learned how severe the stigmas are against people who also deal with mental health. By working with Beyond Charity, I hope to break those stigmas and help people realize what tools are out there to help them. I’m so excited to share my story and be a part of this journey!​

Grace Ellinger

Presenter

My name is Grace Ellinger, and I am a junior at Naperville Central. I am involved in a few clubs at Central, such as The Distinguished Alumni Committee, National Honors Society, and Ambassadors Club. During 7th grade, I tore my ACL, halting my soccer career for a whole year as I recovered physically and mentally. I saw myself pushing myself too hard and setting ridiculously high expectations that I physically could not meet. My mental health began to decline rapidly; I had multiple panic attacks, crying spells and isolated myself from friends. As soon as I began to recover, the same injury occurred my freshman year ending my soccer career for good and prompting the whole cycle to start again. I still hold on to these anxieties today, finding it challenging to build the courage to ski, snowboard, ice skate, and even kneel on the ground. I want to use my experience to aid other athletes and students who have gone through something similar. I want to ensure that kids understand mental health and the importance of healthy coping strategies. I hope through this organization, we will be able to create a message that resonates with kids and helps them gain the knowledge and necessary material to learn to heal and grow.

Rithika Nagireddy

Presenter

My name is Rithika Nagireddy and I am a junior at Naperville Central High school. I am involved in choir, GEMS, and a part of the varsity badminton team. I started showing symptoms of depression in the beginning of 2020. I had days where I had to cover up my tears in school and ended up crying in secret until eventually, I just felt numb. I lost interest in being around the people I loved so much and isolated myself. My happy and energetic self left and I began losing sleep. It was a terrible feeling but it made me more appreciative of the little things and the people I was fortunate enough to have in my life. When I was going through all of this, I didn’t know what to do and didn’t think anyone truly understood. I was told that there was no reason for me to be depressed, or that it was for attention. I now know that wasn’t the case. I want to be able to help others who are feeling the same way I felt then. I want to ensure that others know that no matter what others, or their parents think, their mental health is just as important as physical health and that things will get better one day.

Madison Dote

Presenter

Hi my name is Madison Dote!

I am a junior at Naperville Central and I am involved in DECA, Link Crew, and on Central’s soccer team! Since I was little I have struggled severely with anxiety and as I began to grow I discovered that depression also began to take over my life too. But most importantly why I am still here today is because with the lots of support and courage I realized my mental health disorders don’t define me and shouldn’t have to stop myself from continuing my life. I started really educating myself on what was really going on with me in the past year or so and through that I learned so much about myself and all the amazing things that make me who I am. Although things that I loved like soccer and seeing my friends and family became exhausting and a chore and soon my whole life was taken over and consumed by unwanted thoughts and feelings, I knew that I had more potential and I didn’t like the person I was becoming. But things did get better! I overcame many sleepless nights, many trial and error circumstances, met a ton of support systems and the harsh thoughts I once had seemed to diminish with time and support. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish so much by myself. I still struggle everyday with anxiety and depression but what has been most important to me is stopping the stigma around mental health and sharing my experience to impact others. It’s okay to not be okay!