Top 14 of 2014: People

photo courtesy of taylorswift.com

Uzma Rentia, Staff Reporter

From the entertainment industry to technology and politics, 2014 had countless noteworthy people making innovative progress, or simply leaving behind a lasting legacy. Here is a look back at the people who made many of the highs and lows of 2014 possible.

Joan Rivers

Although Joan Rivers accomplished nothing out of the ordinary in 2014, her name still managed to make headlines during the last few months of the year. On Aug. 28, 2014, Rivers experienced serious complications while undergoing a minor throat procedure at an outpatient clinic Yorkville. These complications proved to be fatal, as Rivers died several days later on September 28, after failing to wake up from a medically induced coma. Her death sparked nationwide attention, mourning, and tributes.

Tim Howard

Generally soccer does not attract much media attention in the United States. However, the United States national team goalkeeper, Tim Howard, had millions of Americans tuning in to watch the FIFA World Cup this summer. During the World Cup Howard was named man of the match for his stunning performance in the games against Portugal and Belgium. During the latter match, Howard broke the record for most saves in a World Cup match, for which he received worldwide attention and appraisal. His memoir “The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving them” was published on Dec. 9, 2014.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams was an iconic comedian and television-star, later known for his work in films and more serious work. He was perhaps most famous for his impressive array of voice imitations. However, his suicide on August 22, 2014 shocked the world. Although Williams will always be most well-known for his humor, his suicide also forced the world to take issues such as depression more seriously. William’s death also resulted in his name being the fastest growing search term on Google in 2014.

Taylor Swift

With the success of her fifth album “1989” Taylor Swift undoubtedly dominated the music industry in 2014. “1989” was the best-selling album of 2014, with 1.287 million copies being sold in its first week alone. This makes Swift the only artist to have three album sell more than one million copies in its first week. Her single “Shake It Off” also spent four non-consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 before being ousted by her latest single “Blank Space.” The success of her latest album, and the mixed reaction to her decision to remove her music from Spotify, consolidated Swift’s status as one of the most accomplished artists of today and ensured her name was still making headlines.

Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown

With social media becoming increasingly popular, forums for digital communication are being generated rapidly and efficiently. In 2014 “Snapchat” a photo messaging application gained widespread popularity and a long list of users. Like Facebook, Snapchat was also founded by a group of college students. Evan Speigel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown where all students at Stanford University when they created what was soon to become one of the most widely used social media apps. Currently Snapchat is valued between $10-$20 billion and has approximately 30 million active users.

Pete Frates

This summer people from around the world participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, an activity that involved dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The campaign went viral on social media and ultimately led to over 100 million dollars being raised for ALS research. The catalyst for this movement is Pete Frates, who suffers from ALS himself. Upon being diagnosed with the disorder, Frates began raising awareness and funds for the disease, finally launching the Ice Bucket Challenge with a friend July of 2014.

Malala Yousafzai

Although she is only 17, Malala Yousafzai serves as one of the foremost champions of female education today. Her tireless efforts and the attack on her life in October, 2012 have made her a household name. For the copious awards she received during over the past few months, 2014 was undoubtedly Yousafzai’s year. On 10 October, 2014, Yousafzai was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest Nobel-prize laureate to date. Yousafzai was also nominated for the World Children’s Prize and granted an honorary doctorate by the University of King’s College in February and March respectively.

Narendra Modi

As the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi has an enormous impact on the state of the second-largest country in the world. The overwhelming popularity of this controversial Hindu-nationalist has managed to alter the entire political landscape of India. His party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), managed to oust the leading political party and now occupies an impressive 300 of the 543 parliamentary seats. After being sworn in on May 26, 2014, Modia has taken steps to improve India’s sagging economy and solidify relations with other nations. As Modi leaves 2014 strong, India has high expectations for their prime minister.

Jack Ma

The massive, record breaking IPO, US$25 billion, of Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce group, was the largest investment news story of 2014. At the center of it is Jack Ma, the company’s founder and Executive Chairman. Ma’s massively successful company is valued as US$231 billion. The Group’s website accounts for over 60% of China’s parcel deliveries and 80% of the country’s online sales as of September. Currently the Group is planning on expanding to India.

Michael Brown

On Aug. 9, 2014 Michael Brown went from being an average 18-year old in Ferguson, Missouri, to the face of black-white relations in America. The shooting of the black teenager by a Darren Wilson, a white cop, sparked weeks of unrest in Ferguson, an area inhabited largely by blacks yet governed by whites. Many felt as though Brown was attempting to surrender, yet Wilson shot him anyway simply because of his race. Although accounts of who was the initial aggressor and who was the victim differ, the shooting of Michael Brown led to a nationwide reexamination of race relations and the idea that remnants of racism still exist in America.

Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen, the first woman to be serve as the chair of the Federal Reserve, was sworn in on Feb. 3, 2014. Yellen has a vast influence on monetary policy and the stock market. Her hold on the American market arguably makes her one of the most powerful people on earth, an idea Forbes agrees with. In 2014 Forbes elected Yellen as the second most powerful woman on the world. She was the highest ranked American on the list. As chair of the Federal Reserve, Yellen will lead the Fed. through many of its trying times, such as managing the wind down of the stimulus programs implemented after the financial crisis.

John Kerry

As the current Secretary of State, John Kerry plays an integral role in establishing and maintaining ties between the US and other countries. Since being sworn in on Feb. 1, 2013, Kerry has had his hands full preserving piece and resolving political disputes. In 2014 Kerry was heavily involved in Middle Eastern affairs as he played a fundamental role in initiating the 2013-14 Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He also proposed the banning of chemical weapons in war-torn Syria. Kerry’s other notable roles in 2014 include attempting to keep the peace between Ukraine and Russia. As 2015 begins, Kerry will continue to face, and tackle, global issues.

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin has been serving his third non-consecutive term as president of Russia since May of 2012. However, it was in 2014 that Putin showed the world the extent of his power and authority. Putin’s decision to invade and then annex Crimea from Ukraine led to outrage in the rest of the world and roaring approval in Russia. The decision would mark the restoration of Russia as a world power, and the first growth of Russian dominion since the fall of the Soviet Union. The annexing of Crimea also meant Putin’s approval ratings skyrocketed upwards, peaking at 88%. And despite all his accomplishments in 2014, Putin shows no signs of slowing down.

Ebola Fighters

It is difficult to say which spread faster: Ebola, or the fear of it. 2014 was the year Ebola hunted and decimated scores of rural African villages in West African countries such as Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, and Mali. Outside of Africa, people were clamoring to suspend all flights from the continent. But through all the confusion groups Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Christian medical-relief workers of Samaritan’s Purse, and many others from all over the world kept calm and fought alongside local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams to fight Ebola. For their tireless efforts, courage and compassion, for their persistence and sacrifice, 2014 was the year of the Ebola Fighters.