Submitted by Lopez Island Prevention Coalition.
Over the past 10 years, three youth from the Lopez community have been selected to be part of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s National Youth Leadership Initiative. Valentina Rendon will be the third member of the Drug Related Education Awareness Mentors, or the DREAM Team, to become part of a training team that empowers over 1,200 youth yearly across the United States and abroad to fight drug use and other problems plaguing their communities. Teddy McCullough and Alexander Cook, former students of Lopez Island High School, were previously selected to serve as NYLI trainers.
Rendon has been involved in prevention since she was 9, as the youngest member of the local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions, also known as DREAM Team Prevention Club. Last summer she attended her first national CADCA conference. CADCA is the nation’s leading drug abuse prevention organization that represents over 5,000 community coalitions across the United States and over 230 coalitions internationally. As a youth trainer she will be working with groups of 13- to 18-year-olds to understand how to analyze and influence their communities in a positive way; more importantly, how to impact change and reduce youth use of drugs and alcohol. Rendon will be a freshman at Lopez Island High School in the fall, and enjoys sports, making cupcakes and working at the coffee shop. Her dream is to become the youngest governor of Washington state.
McCullough recently graduated from Tulane University with an MBA concentrating in finance and analytics. McCullough will be working to help Native American tribes finance and invest in renewable and sustainable energy projects.
Prior to his MBA, McCullough graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from American University and worked in Washington, D.C. at the White House and a national non-profit advocating on behalf of, and building leadership and career development opportunities for, Native American youth.
In high school, McCullough co-founded the DREAM Team and served on the board of the Lopez Island Prevention Coalition to help prevent alcohol and drug use and abuse amongst his peers. Through this, McCullough was awarded the CADCA National Youth Leadership Award and was able to work as a CADCA NYLI trainer, and even had the opportunity to work for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
As a youth, Cook, along with McCullough and several other middle school friends, co-founded the DREAM Team. In 2011 he received CADCA’s Outstanding Youth Award for his involvement in prevention and has been one of their trainers since 2010.
After high school, Cook served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil before returning to graduate from Utah State University in biological engineering. He was recognized as the Outstanding Pre-professional Biological Engineer in 2016 and received the Goldwater scholar’s honorable mention. He was appointed as the director of the USU chapter of the Special Olympics after coaching bocce ball and speed walking, and shares USU’s first gold medal for State Unified Basketball in over 10 years. Alexander currently lives with his wife Polly in Logan, Utah.