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Next Generation Storyteller: Anushka Kollengode

I chose my mommy Ganga Gopalkrishnan as my role model.

I am thankful for her, because she is always there for me whether I am happy or sad, healthy or sick. She helps me with my homework and activities. She mentors my friends as a coach for Technovation where we write computer programs to help homeless people and teaches Indian dance for girls. She is very honest and truthful with people. She is well respected at home, work and in the community. Last year she won the award as the diversity champion at Mayo Clinic.

I interviewed my mom to learn more about her story. When my mom was growing up as a little girl in India, she saw that boys and girls are not treated equally. Girls do not get equal opportunities for education and jobs as boys. Since her school days she always fought for equal opportunities for girls and women. She used to collect money by recycling newspapers and magazines to buy books and pens for girls who did not have them. She also arranged a group of friends to bring extra lunches for the girls in her school whose family could not afford proper food. In summer break, she used to organize travelling library system where they would recycle old books from wealthy kids and give to poor kids to read in bicycles. During her college days she empowered women to have good education by working hard and studying well so that they can be independent.

Along with my mom, I volunteer to serve breakfast and lunch for homeless people in Rochester. She helps me learn about our community and encourages me to work hard, have good education and be a role model at school. Last summer she helped me organize the lemonade stand to raise money to give charity. She also taught me and my friends the dangers of social networking and computer hackers. Thus she is a good role model for me and my friends. 

One day I will see myself in my mom’s shoes and make her proud. Me and my mom, we go together. I am so happy to have my mom as my role model.

Anushka Kollengode, a 6th grader at Willow Creek Middle School, was a finalist for the 2017 Next Generation Storytellers contest, presented by Bolder Options Rochester and the Med City Beat.

Read submissions from all the finalists.

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Next Generation Storyteller: Akhil Kollengode