In 2020, Gitanjali Rao became the first ever winner of Time’s Kid of the Year award. At only fifteen years of age, she won on the basis of her “astonishing
work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying,” according to Time’s Magazine.
This included Kindly, both an app and a chrome extension that uses AI to
prevent cyberbullying before it happens. “You type in a word or phrase, and it’s able to pick it up if it’s bullying, and it gives you the option to edit it or send it
the way it is,” Rao explained in the same Time’s article. Another one of her
impressive accomplishments was her innovation sessions. Rao organizes
lessons, labs, and contests to help foster young minds with innovative ideas.
“The students that I work with, they just don’t know where to start,” Rao said.
“If you give them that spark that they can then build off…that means one more person in this world wants to come up with ideas to solve problems.”
Now, three years later, Rao is as motivated and extraordinary as she was at fifteen. She is a current freshman at MIT, where she hopes to major in biological engineering and minor in entrepreneurship and innovation. She was also honored at the White House’s first Girls Leading Change celebration this past October “for her work promoting science and innovation among youth, locally and globally, and inspiring them with several inventions,” according to MIT News. “My dream is to work on developing solutions to some of the most complex problems in our communities, and possibly someday run a biotech company,” she told MIT News.
In addition to all her work with innovation and invention, Rao has written two books—“A Young Inventor’s Guide to STEM: 5 Steps to Problem Solving for Students, Educators, and Parents,” and “A Young Innovators Guide to Planning For Success,” the latter of which will come out in June 2024.
Rao is an inspiration to young minds in STEM, and proof that there are people fighting hard to change and improve the world we live in today. No matter what age, she is a testament to the fact that you can make a difference for our future.