The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes was awarded to five Indian American teen leaders.
According to Indica News, the winners were Karina Samuel, 17, from Florida; Karun Kaushik, 17, from California; Laalitya Acharya, 18, from Ohio; Sahana Mantha, 15, from North Carolina; and Sri Nihal Tammana, 13, from New Jersey.
The Barron Prize honors students from across North America who have made a significantly positive impact on their communities. Students may have a focus on environmental sustainability or helping support individuals within the community.
The top 15 winners are each awarded $10,000 to support their leadership efforts or go towards higher education, according to Indica News.
Karina Samuels founded the Florida chapter of Bye Bye Plastic Bags (BBPB), an international student-led nonprofit focused on reducing the amount of plastic on the planet. Over the past few years, Samuels has led more than 1,000 volunteers to join over 175 coastal cleanups across Florida. Currently she leads Ban the Bag Florida, which aims to ban plastic bags in Florida.
Karun Kaushik created an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software called X-Check-MD, which can diagnose Covid-19 and pneumonia with 99% accuracy in under a minute. Kaushik also founded Democratize Health, a nonprofit that supports people in impoverished regions using fast, accessible, and cost-effective technology.
“It’s easy to feel hopeless at times with the issues the world is facing but in my opinion, hope is our strongest resource and weapon,” Kaushik said on the Barron Prize website. “I want to drive change to make a better world.”
Laalitya Acharya invented Nereid, a low-cost device that detects water contamination within seconds. Nereid takes microscopic images of the water and runs the photos past a neural network that Laalitya designed. It then sends the information to a water plant or local authorities. Currently, Nereid is being field-tested in collaboration with Columbia University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
“I am truly grateful to everybody who has been a part of The Nereid Project’s journey,” Acharya said on the website. “Our story has just begun and I’m so excited to see where it goes!”
Sri Nihal Tammana founded the nonprofit Recycle My Battery to promote and facilitate the recycling of used batteries. Over the past three years, Tammana’s team consists of 250 student volunteers. Recycle My Battery installs free battery recycling bins and provides education about battery recycling.
“Earth gives us so much – oxygen, food, water – everything! – so it’s important that we give something back when we can,” Nihal Tammana said on the Barron Prize website.
Sahana Mantha co-founded Foundation for Girls (FFG) to connect homeless single mothers to coaches that aim to economically empower them to support their children. In 2021, the organization provided over 3,000 hours of group and one-on-one coaching and distributed nearly 13,000 care packs with hygiene products, diapers, and children’s clothes.
“I’ve learned about the power of collaboration and how far we can go if we work together,” Mantha said on the website. “I’ve also seen that teens can work alongside young adults to create solutions to community challenges.”
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