“I didn’t want to choose between engineering and politics. I wanted to do both.”
Name: London Vallery
Hometown: Cibolo, TX
Education: Byron P. Steele High School
Passions and Interests: Aerospace engineering and politics
Transformational Experience: Ghana: Children of Africa™ and Tanzania: Heart and Soul of Africa
Making an Impact: Co-founded Living for Living, a social movement designed to “create a space where amazing minds from around the world can contribute to an intertwined community of global brainstorming”
London Vallery is someone who dreams of making connections where others only see confusion. Having grown up with a passion for engineering and science, it was a shock when, just before high school, she also discovered a love for politics.
For many people, politics and engineering just don’t mix. Fortunately for the world, London isn’t like most people. She began to see that the two could not only coexist, but also be mutually beneficial to one another.
Though they may go about it from different angles, engineering and politics share a common goal: to build a better world.
So London decided to trust that she could have a passion for both and not compromise her life goals in the process. A bit of good luck also landed her a mentor who shared her unique perspective: her town’s mayor, who also happens to be an engineer.
He is showing me what it takes to be an engineer involved in politics.”
During her time on GLA’s Ghana: Children of Africa™ program, London also met Kenny Wah, a GLA alum who was there working on his RoboGhana project, which offers robotics programs for Ghanaian youth. She said “he was a perfect example of how regular students could take the skills they had, to share them with a world of people.” Kenny also mirrored her own desire to combine her engineering skill set with a project that contributed to the social good.
In fact, London is already putting her dual interests to good use. As a co-founder of Living for Living, she’s teamed up with like-minded peers to tackle logistical problems to social issues through creative building and design.
Earlier this school year, I had entered into the SkillsUSA Engineering Design Technology competition. In this competition, teams of three create an invention and present a prototype, marketing research and their engineering design process to a panel of judges. I had been working on a collapsible, pedal-powered washing machine and thought it would be perfect to enter in the competition. I had found two other students in my Engineering Design class to join my team and began telling them about my invention. It turns out that they, too, were working on projects that benefited communities forced into micro-living conditions.”
London and her friends on the team started with a concrete vision for what they could design together, but ended up landing on an ideal much larger in scope.
At first we wanted to create a furniture line just for micro-living conditions and their unique challenges, but then we realized that we could create something that reached so many more people. We decided to create a website that highlighted people around the world solving problems and provided inspiration for others wishing to do the same.”
Living for Living features ongoing and completed projects aimed at improving the lives of others. The project London is most proud of creating is the Apollo Telescopic Washer, a pedal-powered washer that is collapsible and only costs $30 per unit to produce. With the help of her team and a commitment to seeing the project through, her goal is to eventually start a charitable organization where people in the U.S. can sponsor families in cities around the world to get one of these washers at no cost.
As a high school student, London is a true example of how young leaders can make change through perseverance and initiative. She hopes others will trust themselves enough to take a chance on making their own ideas for improving living conditions a reality.
Too many students just don’t know how easy it is to make a difference. I’ve been collecting stories from students around the country on how they have taken their experiences and knowledge and created something incredible. I want Living For Living to be a space where anyone can come, hear about amazing initiatives, and be inspired to do the same.”
For London, that inspiration comes from others figuring out what she had already discovered, that “you should be the best at what you want to do, not what everyone else wants for you.” This means trusting your own vision, even if it seems impossible at first.
I don’t want anyone else asking how I was able to do something. I want them to have the resources and confidence to know that they can do it as well.
London believes there’s a need for more engineers in politics because they see a different end goal than many in the typical commercial and political sphere, that “this isn’t about creating the next million dollar idea, or starting a business. It’s about helping people.”
It’s that ambition for helping others that is the key to her success, along with her drive to keep trying new things, even if they don’t succeed at first.
When asked what advice she’d give to other teens looking to make a difference in the world, London had this to say:
Don’t worry about anyone else’s achievements. Focus on yourself and raising your bar, and you will be proud of where you end up. And always have an answer to the question, What have you been up to?”
Programs London attended:
Curious about exploring your own GLA adventure? Check these out:
- GLA Tanzania: Heart and Soul of Africa
- GLA Ghana: Children of Africa™
- GLA Ghana: Building Healthy Villages™
- GLA South Africa: Social Entrepreneurship Initiative™
Contributed by Brett Scuiletti