Dec 16, 2020
For 92 years, Time Magazine has conferred the honour of “Person of the Year,” to greats in every field, including politics, entertainment and science. Imagine the world’s pleasant surprise when it saw the face of a teen confidently smiling back from its cover this year. At only 15 years old, Gitanjali Rao has sent the world into a tizzy for not just being the first-ever Kid of the Year , but also for being a girl of Indian origin in STEM! (Not too long ago, the youngest to make it to the cover of the same magazine was 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg.) If these trends are anything to go by, it is clear that there is a growing consensus on the impact young minds have on solving some of the planet’s greatest problems.
Image Source: TIME
Apart from the tangible recognition for Gitanjali’s stellar work in science and technology, this achievement underscores the greatness that emerges when children are empowered to pursue their true passions. And there is something there for each one of us to take away:
Parents, open doors for your children!
There is something so (wrongly) appealing about normalcy that parents often deprive children opportunities to be extraordinary. Every child has the potential to go beyond standard familial and societal expectations to secure good grades, graduate from a prestigious university and land a respectable job – if only they are encouraged to do so. In Gitanjali’s own words, despite being Kid of the Year, she is not sure what she wants to pursue as an adult. This is a welcome trend to normalise not having a plan and be comfortable with our children trying a variety of interests before they decide what they want to do for a living.
Teachers, mentor your students to success!
Before Gitanjali’s brilliant mind dazzled the world, the only handful of people who were privy to it were her mentors. Such is the power teachers hold in identifying and nurturing passions in young learners. Some of the best artists, activists, and scientists of the future could well be sitting in your very own classrooms, being moulded by your words and actions. As educators, let us always be reminded to listen to our learners’ voices first. The support and flexibility we offer our learners to do what they are best at could change their lives and in turn, change the world someday.
Children, find your passions and go after them!
While Gitanjali is the first-ever Kid of the Year, she most certainly will not be the last! The world we live in is in need of innovation, passion, and kindness – now more than ever. Look around you and see the problems that afflict your communities. Find a mentor and use your passions to find solutions to them and you will realise that age barely matters when you are making a difference.
In a major way, Gitanjali Rao has become the poster child for passion in learning and therefore, an aspiration for young people everywhere. Learn more about her inspiring work in STEM here:
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