Student Spotlight: Anya Gruener ‘24

Home > Student Spotlight: Anya Gruener ‘24


An International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme student and member of Cum Laude Society, National Honor Society, Quill and Scroll Journalism Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National French Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Rho Kappa, Zeta Omicron, and Psi Alpha, Anya Gruener 24 is not only passionate about academics, but giving back to the community and enhancing school spirit, as well.

Following the pandemic, she noticed a decline in the Raider spirit that had been a significant part of her experience as a lifer. She then decided to dedicate herself to enhancing school spirit and unity, and was elected as the Junior Class President. She is currently one of two student body presidents, and one of three student representatives in the Alumni Association.

At Gulliver, Anya co-founded the Don’t Close Your Eyes Club, where she now serves as President, leading education and prevention for domestic violence and human trafficking. She is active in Achieve Miami and Breakthrough Miami, supporting education equity in the Miami community, as well. Anya also founded Gulliver’s Junior State of America Chapter to aid students in acquiring the knowledge necessary to be effective debaters and civic participants. Additionally, she currently serves as Managing Editor of The Raider Voice, Editor-in-Chief of its print magazine, Who We Are, and President of Gulliver’s Health Information Project (HIP) chapter, which is dedicated to peer-to-peer health education. Vice president of the Jewish Student Union and an elected council member of the Gulliver Prep Academic Honor Council, Anya founded Raider Talk, following a TEDEd Model, an annual event that allows community members to speak on given topics and promote open discussions from diverse perspectives. 

Outside of school, she leads the Active Love Foundation, serves as a mentor and writer at JTA, and is the President of the U.S. Chapter of Compete for Peace, inviting youth into the global peace discussion and integrating awareness into the education system. She is also a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar, Silver Knight nominee for Social Science, College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Recipient, two-time President’s Volunteer Service Award Gold Medal Recipient, National Community Service Ambassador Awardee, Congressional Award Recipient, and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation National Youth Awardee for Community Service, selected as one of nine out of 30,000 applicants from across the U.S.

Read on to learn about her recognition as a Coca-Cola Scholar, the impact Gulliver has had on her life, and more.

Anya Gruener '24You were recently named a Coca-Cola Scholar, the most competitive achievement scholarship in the country. What makes this particular recognition so special for you?

Being named a Coca-Cola Scholar is deeply special because the foundation’s core mission of “bringing better to the world” resonates closely with mine. Achievements at the high school level are frequently centered around academic success, which is undeniably crucial but, in my opinion, incomplete without the humanistic counterparts of a person. Thus, I am truly honored to be recognized beyond my academic profile and, more importantly, for my empathy and compassion for the world around me. I am also incredibly fortunate to join past and present scholars who positively shape the world across diverse fields. The opportunity to connect and learn from such incredibly inspiring people during my educational journey and beyond is a privilege I deeply cherish. The rigorous selection process, choosing less than 1/6th of 1% of applicants, makes my selection among the 150 students even more special, filling me with immense humility and gratitude.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation honors exceptional high school students who are dedicated to leadership, service, and action that positively affects others. How does this align with your personal values and the work you have done in the community?

A commitment to social advocacy led me to co-found the 501(c)(3) Active Love USA Foundation, Inc., to empower and assist victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Helping survivors escape dangerous environments and navigate their recovery journey inspired us to partner with Wild Fork Foods, an international grocery chain. We have fundraised over $200,000 selling tote bags and have distributed approximately 10,000 pamphlets, raising awareness for prevention methods and empowering individuals to identify and report abuses. Bringing Active Love’s mission to my school community as President of the Don’t Close Your Eyes Club, I collaborate with peers to discuss topics directly affecting teens and invite our community to join the fight against violence and trafficking. Through Active Love, I have learned that it is not the dark pages of our stories that define us but rather the end that we choose to write for ourselves. My goal is to ensure that survivors have the opportunity to reclaim their narrative, finding the strength, when necessary, to overcome their past.

What inspires and motivates you to serve others?

Arriving at the Refugee Center in Nadarzyn, Poland, I was there to assist refugees fleeing the Ukrainian-Russian War. For four weeks, I oversaw and provided a safe haven in a makeshift daycare for over 250 children, where distressed parents could leave their children with proper care to find work and plan relocations with nonprofit organizers. Amidst the chaos and devastation, I observed solidarity, kindness, and compassion as individuals came together to support one another in the face of adversity. This experience solidified my conviction that in times of darkness, collective compassion shines brightest. I am inspired to spread light anywhere I can and motivate others to do the same. 

Back in Miami, my published article on the victims of the refugee camp aims to raise awareness for the atrocities of war and its victims. As global wars continue to play out and individuals become desensitized to human suffering, I urge the reader to remember the people behind the statistics and to understand that even their smallest act of service can dispel the shadows cast by adversity.  

Anya Gruener '24

How would you say that being a student at Gulliver has allowed you to discover new passions, experiences, and opportunities?

From the Early Bird Broadcast in elementary school to the Raider Student Network in Middle School and finally joining The Raider Voice as its only freshman in high school, Gulliver has enabled me to find my most authentic and powerful self through the written word. Penning over 40 pieces on topics from features to news and entertainment, I have seen the power of journalism raise awareness and incentivize action. My experience has provided me with amazing opportunities, such as working for an international telegraphic agency, JTA, and being nationally recognized for my work, including awards from the National Scholastic Press Association, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and Student Newspapers Online (SNO). 

Yet, it was when I stepped outside the expected path that Gulliver truly allowed me to discover new passions and experience new opportunities. For example, in my sophomore year, motivated to try something new, I joined my first computer science class. It was there that I met Mr. Morell, who inspired me to use computer science for good. I worked hard to learn the foundations of C++, and I was later able to co-create my first software application, Peacea: an app disguised as a pizza mobile ordering app that allows domestic violence victims to discreetly report information to authorities. My application was recognized by Congresswoman Salazar and was a finalist for the Congressional App Challenge in the 27th District. From the humanities to STEM, Gulliver has given me the opportunity to explore and flourish in a variety of fields. 

Not to mention, Gulliver has also taught me how to be a risk-taker and push academic boundaries. Joining Anthropology Honors as a sophomore, a class reserved for upperclassmen, Dr. Cubas’ passion for anthropology was genuinely infectious. Joining IB, I chose anthropology as the subject area for my Extended Essay, writing about the relationship between human trafficking and legal personhood, specifically focused on the undocumented Latinx immigrant population in Miami. My research has since been chosen for publication in the academic journal The Principles of Social Sciences, and the insights gained from this research have been instrumental in shaping the initiatives of the Active Love Foundation. Gulliver and its amazing teachers have enabled me to foster and grow new passions while encouraging exploration beyond conventional boundaries. 

Having been at Gulliver since SK, how have you seen yourself grow as a student and as a person?

As a lifer at Gulliver, I truly believe that the Raider community has enabled me to thrive in all senses. I have been granted the environment and the resources to explore my passions and interests through electives and extracurricular activities. The multiple exceptional teachers that I have been fortunate to have have pushed me academically to become the best student I can be. But what I value most of all is not just the growth that Gulliver has granted me as a student but also the personal development the community has fostered. From my Lower School teachers who continue to reach out to me and check on me, to my peers (most of whom I have grown up with) who continue supporting me in and out of school, Gulliver is my school and my family. I truly value knowing that the Raider family’s support and guidance have accompanied me in every step of my journey and will continue to accompany me beyond graduation. I am lucky and proud to say that I will always be a Raider!

What are your future aspirations at college and beyond? 

I plan to use my voice, my most powerful possession, to speak for those who do not have the freedom or platform to do so, with the career aim of advocating for human rights and making my mark in international law or public policy. 

More From the Newsroom