Gitanjali Rao becomes TIME’s first-ever kid of the year

Gitanjali Rao becomes TIME's first-ever kid of the year

The fifteen-year-old Indian-American Gitanjali Rao has been selected as first-ever kid of the year by the TIME magazine for her work using technology to combat issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying.

The magazine announced the award Thursday, citing Rao’s ability to apply scientific ideas to real-world problems — and her desire to motivate other kids to take up their own causes. Ms. Rao, 15, was selected from a field of more than 5,000 nominees as TIME’s first-ever Kid of the Year. The young achiever was interviewed by Hollywood actor and special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie. Gitanjali invented a mobile device to test for lead in drinking water. “Observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate,” Ms. Rao told about her process during a virtual talk with Ms. Jolie from her home in Colorado.

She spoke about her astonishing work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying, and about her mission to create a global community of young innovators to solve problems the world over. “Even over video chat, her brilliant mind and generous spirit shone through, along with her inspiring message to other young people: don’t try to fix every problem, just focus on one that excites you,” Time said. “If I can do it,” she said in the interview, “anybody can do it.” Ms. Rao said her generation is facing many problems that they have never seen before.