Neha Nakirikanti

2023 - ATLANTA

Neha Nakirikanti is a senior at Columbus High School in Columbus, Georgia. Here, Neha serves as Student Council president and is a local representative of the Youth Leadership Committee. In hopes of reaffirming inclusivity for those of various backgrounds and ethnicities, Neha led the construction of a diversity mural, later hung in the National Infantry Museum. Furthermore, she founded a Karaoke Club to create an inclusive environment for her diverse student body. Neha explains that her "karaoke club teaches students the value of humility, providing them with the confidence to place the spotlight on their differences." Passionate about alleviating food insecurity for those of marginalized communities, Neha has spent numerous hours volunteering at local food banks by packaging donation bags, recording contributions, and organizing fundraisers at her school, raising over $240 for the Wynnton Road Neighborhood Network. She leads the social media team of the Assemble to Serve Community, a local non-profit committed to ending food insecurity in Muscogee County, where Neha raises awareness for homeless individuals about maximizing the nutritional value from donations. As a freshman, Neha began volunteering in a local Title I School's Math Team. There, she became very aware of the large educational gap prevalent within her community. Many students lacked the resources that had always been available to her, preventing these students from exploring their dream pursuits. As a result in 2020, Neha founded a STEM Outreach Program in her community, working to provide those of marginalized communities with access to educational resources and STEM opportunities by creating after school programs in Title I Schools. In an effort to make her impact everlasting, Neha used JavaScript, HTML, and CSS to code an educational website with resources including motivation figures, coding websites, learning advice, steps and lesson plans for schools to start their own STEM programs for each school in her community. Neha wholeheartedly believes that education is a gateway towards creating equal opportunities for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status. Through her program, she hopes that children no longer feel constraints on their abilities but rather feel empowered to explore their dreams.