Sydney Medina and Jillian Medina, twin sisters from West Windsor, visited the White House in early March as teen advisors for “Girl Up,” an organization of the United Nations Foundation that gives American girls the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for programs of the United Nations that help hard-to-reach adolescent girls.
The girls had the opportunity to meet First Lady Michelle Obama when they were invited to a reception at the White House honoring the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. They were joined by the cabinet members (including Mercer County’s Lisa Jackson from the EPA), ambassadors, and other dignitaries. When they met with the First Lady, Sydney asked her if Sasha was doing long division and was told that Sasha loved math.
Both fourth grade students at Village School, Sydney is in Gwen Komyati’s class and Jillian is in Janette Young’s class.
Sydney participates in the creative arts in all aspects of her life. A student of ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance for several years, she took a break to play basketball. She studies guitar with Charles Frederick Frantz and plays violin in the school orchestra. Sydney likes to write realistic fiction stories and has written for the school’s literary magazine. She also won first prize in the 2008 Lions Club poster contest for a picture she drew depicting American children helping the children of the world.
Jillian has participated in her school’s continental math league, worked on the literary magazine, and had her artwork featured in the school district calendar. She is also active in sports and has played on Strikers travel soccer team for the past two years and recently joined Hoopsters travel basketball team. When she was in second grade she gave up her recess for several days to clean up her school’s playground. When other children wanted to pitch in, the school principal created a sign-up sheet for other students to participate and it became a regular lunchtime activity. When Jillian decided that she wanted to advocate for animals, she became a vegetarian three years ago.
Both of their parents work in New York City. Their mother, Rhonda Adams Medina, is senior vice-president of business and legal affairs for Nickelodeon Television/MTV Networks. She graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, Class of 1987, (two years after Michelle Obama) and received her law degree from Harvard Law. Their father, Derek M. Medina, is a senior vice president of business affairs with ABC News. A graduate of Brown University, he graduated from Columbia University with a law degree.
The pregnant couple moved to West Windsor 14 years ago to be closer to Rhonda’s parents, who offered their services as child care providers since they were both retired and living in Hamilton. The couple’s other children are Brandon, 14, an eighth grade student at Grover Middle School, and Gabrielle, 8, a second grade student at Hawk School.
When they were seven, Sydney and Jillian donated their birthday gifts to foster family services. On their 10th birthday, they donated $3,100 to Girls UP.
“It’s pretty exciting to be a teen advisor and they are advocates to raise awareness on behalf of girls in developing countries,” says Rhonda. To donate to the cause visit www.girlup.org, click on girl raisers, and look for Jersey Girls Rock!, a team of two, seeking donations and new members.