This month, two of our Reality Check members, Praaghya and Rishita, are graduating from high school, and CDTFC would like to take a moment to thank them for all their hard work these past three years.

Praaghya Meyyan, a senior at Columbia High School (pictured on left) has been a Capital District Reality Check member since March 2018 and is the 2020 Capital Region Tobacco-Free Youth Ambassador of the Year. She is also an active member of the Reality Check Statewide Youth Advisory Board and has had many opportunities to provide input and direction to the NYS youth-led Reality Check program; she helped plan and participated in an Instagram live conversation about the negative impact of smoking on screen, and presented on how to make the most of social media to raise awareness about the problem of tobacco marketing. Through her numerous experiences presenting to school and community groups as well as speaking before local legislative bodies, Praaghya has become knowledgeable about tobacco control issues and become a more confident public speaker.  She has become an important local and statewide voice in the fight against the tobacco industry.

Rishita Nagothi, a senior at Tech Valley High School (pictured on right) has been a Capital District Reality Check member since July 2018. Since joining Reality Check, Rishita has capitalized on many opportunities to educate her peers, the community and decision makers about tobacco marketing in the retail environment and tobacco imagery in the media; she has participated in legislative visits with state senators and assemblypersons, has spoken during public comment time at county meetings and presented to the members of youth organizations. Notably, she spoke alongside national control tobacco leaders at a “Flavors Hook Kids” press conference in Albany County in 2019 and has been interviewed by a local news station for a Smoke-Free movie event. Through her experiences, Rishita has learned the importance of being involved, collaborating with others and persisting in speaking out about issues that impact our communities.  

We are very proud of Praaghya and Rishita and will miss them greatly after they graduate. In the fall, Praaghya plans to study Business at Binghamton University and Rishita plans to study Neurobiology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We wish you nothing but the best, Praaghya and Rishita!  Congrats and good luck on all your future endeavors! Click here to watch the “2021 RC Senior Spotlight” video featuring Praaghya and Rishita. 

If you are a middle or high school student or are a parent/guardian of a student interested in participating in our Capital District Reality Check teen leadership program, click here.