(Welcome to the very first episode of our new Real Teen Idol series, where we'll profile real teens--just like you--who are making a difference in their communities. We're pretty confident that you'll be inspired by the stories of how they're changing the world with their ideas, heroics and compassion!)
Our first Real Teen Idol is 18-year-old Paul Hyman. Currently a volunteer firefighter in Port Washington, New York, Paul starts Clarkson University this fall on a full, four-year scholarship. He earned that honor as a winner of Clarkson's "Young Entrepreneurs and Innovators" competition.
Paul came up with two life-saving inventions that he will develop when he gets to school this fall. The first is called the "Dryer Fire Prevention System." It shuts off the dryer before it catches on fire by detecting lint inside of vents and lint traps. The other is called the "Fighter SCBA" (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), which is a miniature infrared camera that fits inside the masks of firefighters and helps them see clearly in smoke-filled areas.
Clarkson will guide Paul on all aspects of product development from the business plans to developing the prototypes to getting the products on the market. He'll even have his own office in the Entrepreneurial Center. How many freshmen do you know with that perk?
Paul filled us in on how he got to where he is today--and what it's really like to be a role model!
Real Life Idols:
"I can't pick one idol. I just look up to people in my community that take initiative to change things for the better. The ones that have a sense of leadership, confidence and the ability to make change happen. My family, my teachers and people at the firehouse inspire me. I can't pin down just one because they all helped me get here."
"First I wanted to be an architect. I would build with blocks on the rug and then shake them to try and make [my building] earthquake-proof. I also wanted to be a pilot or astronaut. It was always something around engineering that I was interested in. I was also always coming up with inventions. When I was a little kid, I had an idea for a clicker that's for your car but also controls doors inside houses. Then I had an idea for a vest that people working in high places would wear. It would deploy a big, squishy air bag if they happened to fall. Both were done [but not by me]. I've had random ideas--some good, some really really bad."
Words to Live By:
"My parents always said I could do whatever I wanted to do. And my engineering teacher always said that no matter how far along on project you were, you should step back and say, 'Okay, how do I get to where I need to go next? What do I need to change?' And he said that if something doesn't work to just go back and try again. It was important advice for me because things don't always work out how you want them to in life. But, if you keep trying, keep taking opportunities and going forward--you'll eventually end up in a good place."
On Being a "Real Teen Idol"
"I just hope to lead by example and use the resources I have now to positively change things. I want to change the world for the better. If you try hard enough, no matter how slim you think your chances are, there's always a way to accomplish your goals and dreams."
Do you know a Real Teen Idol? Sound off in the Comments below.