Reinventing Millennials

Millennial is a dirty word. Self involved and greedy. Entitled and wasteful.

Anna Chlystun has challenged these stereotypes by being goal driven and a caretaker. She goes to Zionsville Community High School and is entering her senior year. With an enrollment of 2,200, this small school seems large to Anna.

At only 17, Anna has decided that she wants to devote her time to children with disabilities. She carries her passions with her in and out of school and is heavily involved in programs that focus on the betterment of students with disabilities. Best Buddies, peer special education, and unified track to name a few. She’s a support system, a cheerleader and an advocate for children with special needs.

Her inspiration to care for disabled children came from her mom’s friend’s son who has cystic fibrosis. Anna’s known him forever and enjoys being around kids with disabilities. “You can’t make yourself be comfortable with students with disabilities; you either are or aren’t,” Anna said.

Sitting just inside Sample Gates, Anna Chlystun takes in the beauty of Indiana University’s campus. She is here for the High School Journalism Institute summer program. “I’m the managing editor of my yearbook, so I’m in charge of planning stuff,” Anna said. Anna has been living in a dorm and getting the full college experience while taking classes to improve her yearbook skills.

One day at the daycare she works at, Anna had an experience she’ll never forget. A boy with autism finally called her “Miss. Anna”. “I knew he knew who I was, but it was cool to have him actually say it,” Anna said. Her relationship with the kids runs deep and one child cried because Anna wasn’t going to be there the following week. Anna said that it makes her happy to know how much she means to those kids.

Even though she has taken on adult responsibilities at an early age, she is still very much a teenager. When she’s not balancing her time between school and her job at the daycare, she’s in her bed watching Netflix. The Office to be exact. She calls this her personal space. When the weather is nice, she’ll jump in the pool and go for a swim.  

Anna describes her town of Zionsville as “very judgmental” but close knit. After high school she plans on attending University of Alabama and following her passion by majoring in early childhood special education and development. There are little things that make up Anna’s personality and define her as a person. While not as significant as helping disabled children, they are a part of her just the same. She hates cold weather and she’s in love with Nike tennis shoes. Cold Stone Creamery ice cream is used to treat herself when needed. All of these things come together to create a multifaceted person.

One child at a time, Anna is changing the way the world views millennials.