Gitanjali Rao, a 15-year-old Indian-American has been named by TIME magazine as the first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’. Gitanjali is a “brilliant” young scientist and inventor, who has tackled various issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying.
Applauding the immense contribution of the young generation in driving positive impact, TIME magazine mentioned:
“The world belongs to those who shape it. And however uncertain that world may feel at a given moment, the reassuring reality seems to be that each new generation produces more of what these kids have already achieved: positive impact, in all sizes,”
TIME magazine received more than 5,000 nominations. Out of which, Ms. Rao was elected as TIME’s first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’. For the TIME Special Edition, Gitanjali was interviewed by actor and activist Angelina Jolie. While sharing the details of her process during the virtual talk with Ms. Jolie from her home in Colorado, Gitanjali mentioned:
“Observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate,”
She also spoke about her work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying. Additionally, she also mentioned her mission to create a global community of young innovators to solve problems the world over.
While sharing the details of the talk, TIME said:
“Even over video chat, her brilliant mind and generous spirit shone through, along with her inspiring message to other young people: don’t try to fix every problem, just focus on one that excites you,”
Speaking about how her generation is facing many problems that they have never seen before, Ms. Rao mentioned:
“But then at the same time, we’re facing old problems that still exist. Like, we’re sitting here in the middle of a new global pandemic, and we’re also like still facing human-rights issues. There are problems that we did not create but that we now have to solve, like climate change and cyberbullying with the introduction of technology,” she said.
“I think more than anything right now, we just need to find that one thing we’re passionate about and solve it. Even if it’s something as small as, I want to find an easy way to pick up litter. Everything makes a difference. Don’t feel pressured to come up with something big,”
She further added:
“That was my everyday goal, just to make someone happy. And it soon turned into, How can we bring positivity and community to the place we live?”
While talking about how she isn’t like a typical scientist, she mentioned:
“I don’t look like your typical scientist. Everything I see on TV is that it’s an older, usually white man as a scientist. It’s weird to me that it was almost like people had assigned roles, regarding like their gender, their age, the colour of their skin.”
Sharing the most inspiring message to others, this 15-YO mentioned:
“My goal has really shifted not only from creating my own devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well. Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it,”
Gitanjali shared that she was in second or third grade when she started thinking about how she can use science and technology to create social change. She was just 10-years-old when she told her parents that she wanted to research carbon nanotube sensor technology at the Denver Water Quality Research Lab.
At IFORHER, we wish Gitanjali luck for her future endeavors. We hope she will inspire many young minds to come forward and bring social change!