Indian American teenager Gitanjali Rao was one of fifteen young women leaders recognized by First Lady Jill Biden for their outstanding efforts in driving positive change and shaping a brighter future in their respective communities throughout the United States.
The White House Gender Policy Council has carefully selected the participants for the “Girls Leading Change” event at the White House, a testament to the profound impact these young women are making within their communities and their unwavering commitment to fortifying the future of our nation.
First Lady Jill Biden expressed her deep honor in celebrating this remarkable group, remarking, “These young women are safeguarding and preserving our environment, crafting narratives that alter perspectives, and transforming their challenges into meaningful missions.”
At just 17 years old, Rao is currently a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A budding scientist and inventor, she earned the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” from Discovery Education/3M and was the recipient of the EPA Presidential Award for her groundbreaking lead contamination detection tool.
Rao delved into a project in the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Colorado Denver, where she harnessed cutting-edge genetic engineering techniques to create a colorimetry-based application and device for the treatment of prescription opioid addiction. Her initiative garnered global recognition as a world finalist in the Technovation Girl Challenge and received a Health Pillar award from the TCS Ignite Innovation challenge on a national level.
Additionally, Rao had the opportunity to share her innovative invention on TEDtalksNayibaat, the Indian version of the TED platform. Notably, she also serves as a board member for the Children’s Kindness Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading an anti-bullying message and emphasizing the significance of kindness.
Among her many notable achievements, one stands out: her book, “Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM,” has been widely adopted as a STEM curriculum in schools around the globe.
Rao, who was named Time Magazine’s inaugural “Kid of the Year,” is deeply committed to not only continuing her journey as a scientist and inventor but also to expanding her STEM education initiative, which has already impacted over 80,000 students in elementary, middle, and high schools. In 2021, her dedication to making a difference was acknowledged when she received the title of “Young Activists Summit Laureate” from the United Nations in Geneva