For Gitanjali Rao, a 15-year-old scientist from Colorado in the United States, tackling world’s problems is a fight to finish. The teenage scientist was named Time magazine’s first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’ on Thursday after scaling through a list of more than 5,000 US-based nominees — ages 8 to 16.
Rao’s recognition comes after she invented strings of technologies including an application that can detect cyberbullying as well as a device to spot bio-contaminants in water.
Speaking with Angelina Jolie, a movie star and humanitarian, Rao said her inventions were in response to the numerous challenges confronting the world.
“Our generation is facing so many problems that we’ve never seen before. 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” she told Time.
“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.”
But while Rao has continued to pull the strings with several innovations, she has refused to be described as a “typical scientist.”
— TIME (@TIME) December 3, 2020
Rather, the young inventor said she is out to inspire individuals to be problem solvers in different spheres of life regardless of race, gender or age.
“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,” she said
“It’s weird to me that it was almost like people had assigned roles, regarding like their gender, their age, the color of their skin.
“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.”
She added: “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.”
The Time magazine’s recognition further stretches the teenager’s impressive run.
In 2017, Rao, who was 11 then, was named America’s top young scientist after she inspired a quick, low-cost test for detecting lead-contaminated water.
The magazine had described the new Kid of the Year title as a “barometer for the rising leaders of America’s youngest generation”.
According to the magazine, Rao’s exploits were indicative of the growing influence of young kids in tackling global challenges.
“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—five Kid of the Year finalists selected from a field of more than 5,000 Americans, ages 8 to 16—have already achieved: positive impact, in all sizes,” it said.
Time is expected to announce it’s 2020 Person of the Year next week.
TheCable Lifestyle had reported how Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl, emerged as the magazine’s ‘Person of the Year‘ for 2019.
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