ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The Emily Couric Leadership Scholarship winner has been announced for 2021. The recipient is Albemarle High School senior Aditi Prakash, who is helping hundreds of children stay engaged through the pandemic.
Each year, the Emily Couric Leadership Forum board selects 10 young women from Charlottesville and Albemarle County area high schools to receive thousands of dollars in scholarships.
This year, the board is recognizing Aditi Prakash with $35,000 to go to Stanford University in the fall.
“It’s truly been a blessing to be even considered for this award and going to Stanford too...it’s all like a dream come true,” Aditi Prakash said.
“We’re just so incredibly proud, but then I think every kid worked so hard,” Aditi’s mother, Rashmi Prakash said. “This pandemic has been so hard on children.”
Prakash earned her spot as a nominee through her work encouraging young kids to get involved with STEM.
“I wanted to help the kids through the pandemic as they weren’t in school anymore,” she said. “I started this science kit program where we create and deliver kits to the Boys and Girls Club and the library.”
Prakash named the program Key To Learning. She creates hands-on kits and lessons for kids since she realized there was a lack of diversity in the STEM field.
“That’s why we’re making these kits for elementary schoolers from third grade to sixth grade, so they can explore their interests when they’re young,” Prakash said.
The kits have become wildly popular across Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
“So far, we’ve delivered 200 kits but this week we’re making 400 to deliver to elementary schools,” Prakash said.
The teachers around town praise her for the work.
“She brought the kits over and was checking on us a little later and was like ‘Hey I made more kits would you love some more?’ and I was like ‘yes!’ because more clubs are asking for how we get our hands on those kits as well,” Chase Rohan, STEM teacher for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia said.
Rohan thinks the kits are genius.
“They’re already doing virtual schooling and that is tough on everyone,” Rohan said. “The fact that they can unplug from the computer, unplug from devices, and still learn and do something fun and engaging- it’s amazing and inspiring.”
Prakash even took her talents a step further beyond just the science kits.
“Also this year, I started a mentoring program where we pair our high schoolers up with elementary schoolers to help them with their homework and just emotionally help them through the pandemic,” she said.