What were you doing when you were 15-years old? Well, I was in class-9 struggling with Trigonometry and trying to save 5 bucks from my lunch money to relish an orange-stick after school!
However, at 15, Gitanjali Rao’s life is VERY different. Who is she, you ask? Well.
Gitanjali Rao is an Indian-American girl who has been declared TIME magazine’s first-ever ‘Kid Of The Year’. According to NDTV, she is a brilliant young scientist and an inventor who is currently being celebrated for her astonishing work in using technology to solve significant problems – like identifying contaminated drinking water, fighting opioid addiction and cyberbullying.
Since a very young age, Gitanjali has been wanting to use science and technology to bring about social change.
“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.”
One of her inventions is the Tethys, a small box which contains a battery, Bluetooth, and carbon-nanotubes which can detect lead in water. Besides this, she is working on a product that “helps to diagnose prescription-opioid addiction at an early stage based on protein production of the mu-opioid receptor gene”. Finally, she has developed an app and Chrome extension named ‘Kindly’ which can detect cyberbullying at an early stage based on artificial intelligence technology, reports TIME.
She also spoke about breaking the scientist-stereotype.
“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.”
Gitanjali was chosen from a bunch of 5,000 nominees as the ‘Kid Of The Year’ and was interviewed by actress and activist Angelina Jolie. Have a look at her interview here:
— TIME (@TIME) December 3, 2020
“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,” wrote TIME.
This isn’t the first time Gitanjali has come under the spotlight. In 2019, she was on Forbes 30 under 30 list and in 2017, she was named ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’.
Kids like Gitanjali Rao make us believe that the future is in good hands. May she continue to inspire many more!