Gitanjali Rao was TIME’s first child of the Yr, named in 2020 for her work as a scientist and chief. Now 16, Rao stays centered on her analysis and on increasing entry for teenagers to make use of their distinctive views to innovate as nicely. She spoke with TIME about what she has performed together with her title.
It’s been a 12 months because you had been named TIME’s Child of the Yr. What have you ever been as much as?
It has been an absolute whirlwind of feelings. I’m glad that it has given me a extra impactful voice.
I work very intently with the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Basis and Angelina Jolie, and I labored with college students in Cambodia for his or her workshop. Additionally, I’ve spoken at so many conferences now. I’ve talked on the way forward for schooling, schooling inequality, using tech for drawback fixing, the necessity for youth within the workforce, ladies in STEM—all types of issues.
Kindly [Rao’s app to monitor cyberbullying], in partnership with UNICEF, is now an answer that can be utilized everywhere in the nation. And it’s the identical mission, identical objective—it’s simply modified to be extra clear, and supply extra sources for college kids.
My latest venture is detecting parasites in water in third world international locations. I’m considering of going into biogenetics, product growth, and public administration—some mixture of the three.
Final 12 months, you reached your objective of mentoring 30,000 college students via your innovation workshops. How is that going?
I’m at over 57,000 college students proper now. I additionally wrote a ebook that was launched in March 2021. Now it’s obtainable in 5 languages everywhere in the world. I’ve raised greater than $70,000 to assist refugee camps and Title I faculties with buying books as nicely. And, in partnership with Transformation Ghana, I’ve offered books to excessive faculties there as nicely. As a Nationwide Geographic Younger Explorer and the laureate for the Younger Activists Summit in Geneva, I used to be capable of enhance the Makerspace within the Kakuma refugee camp, offering them with extra laptops and printers and iPads and ways in which they will enhance their very own innovation careers. On high of that, I’ve additionally been actually enthusiastic about mentoring college students for challenges, in order that they’ve the competitors to convey their concepts to life.
Why do you wish to particularly mentor children in different international locations?
It’s bizarre to assume that I’ve privileges that plenty of different individuals don’t. I consider that innovation ought to have an equal taking part in discipline. We shouldn’t put a worth on arising with concepts. And that’s precisely why I’m attempting to assist out among the individuals who do give you a tremendous concept however generally don’t know the place to start out, or don’t have the sources to.
What’s subsequent for the 12 months forward?
Actually, I’m trying ahead to performing some extra analysis and getting again into the lab. I wish to get extra into this period of customized medication. And I’m hoping to develop a extra in-depth Okay-12 curriculum. On the finish of the day, the most important factor that I wish to do is have a look at inequality in schooling, and the way we will create an schooling system that fits everybody.
How are you going to do all of that whereas maintaining with highschool?
Fortunately, I’m nearly performed with highschool. Simply three semesters left. And, you understand, managing school apps and issues like that may be a lot. However I strongly consider that for those who’re doing all the things that you just wish to do—not what you want to do—it makes all the things that a lot simpler to stability out.
Learn concerning the 2021 TIME Child of the Yr finalists right here.