By Caris Mann
For most of us at Hanover High School, the past decade was the most instrumental of our lives so far. We grew up in this decade and grew fascinated with the trends and people we encountered. But the people we looked up to in 2009 are so different from the people we looked up to in 2019. Every year, TIME Magazine posts a list of the 100 most influential people of the year. Let’s take a look back on some of the most influential people in 2009 vs 2019.
Barack Obama – President of the United States
In 2009, Obama was voted one of the most influential political leaders of the year. Obama was inaugurated that year, taking over the presidency from George W. Bush. During that year, Obama lowered unemployment rates, expanded the children’s health care program, and won the Nobel Prize. He worked hard that year to benefit the people of the United States and forever made a lasting impression.
Brad Pitt – Actor
It may come as a surprise to some people, but Brad Pitt was not deemed influential because of his acting. He was actually recognized under the category “Builders and Titans.” This was because of his work with the foundation he established called Make It Right. After Hurricane Katrina, Pitt created the foundation to help rebuild affordable homes for the people of New Orleans. He also advocated for his movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” to be shot in New Orleans to show off the culture of the city. Pitt put the needs of the people of New Orleans in front of his own.
Jeff Kinney – Author
We all know Jeff Kinney as the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. In 2009, Kinney was voted as one of the most influential artists and entertainers. Everyone relates to Kinney’s hilarious stories of Greg Heffley as he tries to navigate his way through middle school. We’ve all been there, whether it’s dealing with your annoying older brother and his stupid band or being terrified to talk to that one girl. By creating a book series that resonated, Kinney instilled a lifelong love of reading in countless young children.
Michelle Obama – First Lady
In 2009, Michelle Obama was voted as one of the many heroes and icons by TIME Magazine. And why not? She inspires people every day to live their best lives. She is a working mother whose goals are to better the lives of other people. In 2009, she planted the White House Kitchen Garden to encourage healthy eating within the White House. She wanted the people of the United States to commit to a healthy lifestyle in order to live a longer life. She works incredibly hard to ensure the best lifestyle of the citizens of the United States.
Connie Hedegaard – Scientist
TIME Magazine named Connie Hedegaard as one of the most influential scientists and thinkers of 2009. Before researching this article, I had no idea who Connie Hedeguard was. But now I understand why TIME magazine loved her so much. She is a Danish politician and public intellectual who fights to end climate change. In 2009, she was picked to host the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, where she worked to come up with a global solution to climate change. She is one of the many leaders who believes that climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution.
Sandra Oh – Actress
In 2019 under the “Pioneers Category,” TIME voted for Sandra Oh. Most people know Sandra as Dr. Cristina Yang on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. Oh is described by TIME as a hard worker with brilliant talent. She has an energy that is unmatched when she portrays Cristina. She is also described as a perfectionist who wants every part of her craft to be just right. She puts care into her work. She is also seen as a pioneer because she had to work her way to where she is today. She had to pay to go to acting school all on her own. Her parents never wanted her to become an actress. However, she never gave up and is enjoying the success that she has earned today.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Actor
Everyone has heard of the famous wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson. However, most people might not know that he was voted as TIME Magazine’s most influential artist of the year. According to TIME, Dwayne is an inspiration to all. He puts so much energy into the world around him. He runs a charity called “The Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation” which works to help terminally ill children. He created his own production company where he produces TV shows. He is starring in many new blockbuster movies and it was recently announced that he will be starring in his first superhero movie. Dwayne works hard to inspire the people around him.
Greta Thunberg – Activist
Recently, this teen activist has come into the spotlight for her global work on climate change, earning a spot on TIME’s list at the young age of 17. She has led many climate strikes and marches including the most famous, “Skipping School for Climate Change,” where many young teens decide to skip school for a day to encourage their governments to do something about climate change. She is also famous for her influential speeches which have been delivered in front of many world leaders. Perhaps her most famous one took place at the United Nations in 2019, where she told the leaders that they may love their children but they are taking their future away from them by not attempting to fix their climate. I have a feeling that this is not the last time we will hear from Greta Thunberg and I look forward to seeing what she will do next.
Michelle Obama – Activist
Michelle Obama was named an icon once again in 2019. Throughout the last decade, she has continued her great work in helping to better American citizens. She started the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids program to offer healthy school lunches to every child in America. She started the Reach Higher program to inspire adults to continue their education after graduating high school. She has also launched the Global Girls Alliance where she will support 1,500 girls’ education programs. Even though she may no longer be the First Lady, Michelle still works hard to better our lives each day.
Lebron James – Athlete
Basketball star LeBron James was nominated as 2019’s Titan of the Year. While he may be a star on the court, James is also a star in the field of philanthropy. He started the Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, for disadvantaged children. James also runs his own charity called the LeBron James Family Foundation. In addition, he supports many other charities such as After School All-Stars, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Children’s Defense Fund. He has even partnered with the University of Akron to provide 2,300 scholarships beginning in 2021. The value of education is important to James and he wants to be able to spread that influence to others.