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  • For the first time in its nearly one century of publication, Time magazine puts the spotlight on child achievers for its traditional yearend tribute. It aptly calls the 2020 edition as “Kid of the Year.”

    The inaugural title of “Kid of the Year” goes to Gitanjali Rao, a 15-year-old scientist and inventor whose works with technology “tackled pressing issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying.” 

    Time’s December issue, with Gitanjali on the cover wearing her medals, was recently unveiled on the newsmagazine’s website.

    The announcement article said the brainy girl from the city of Lone Tree in Colorado state bested more than 5,000 nominees, ages 8 to 16, from across the United States. It also stated the chosen one’s mission is to get other young innovators work together as a global community to solve problems ailing the world.

    Gitanjali was interviewed via Zoom by actress, activist, and Time contributing editor Angelina Jolie for the cover story. During their video chat, the kid of the year was observed to be letting “her brilliant mind and generous spirit” shine through.

    They talked about the teenage scientist's body of works so far, like the one that addresses the problem of cyberbullying.

    She explained: "It's a service called Kindly — there’s an app and a Chrome ­extension —which is able to detect cyberbullying at an early stage, based on artificial-­intelligence technology."

    Their other topics included Gitanjali's passion for science, sources of research, and dismal foray into the kitchen to bake.


    “Actually, I spend more time doing 15-year-old things during quarantine,” she told her interviewer, who’s also a working mother of six. “I bake an ungodly amount. It’s not good, but it’s baking. And, like, it’s science, too.”

    For her part, Angelina said she’s “just so happy” to know Gitanjali even for just a little bit. She added, "I’m sure I’ll be using your inventions in years to come and just being in awe of you as I watch you do more and more in your life, and I can say, ‘I met her once.’"

    Gitanjali’s advice to her fellow youth is to avoid fixing every problem and focus instead one one that excites them. She pointed out, “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

    The newsmagazine’s current issue also features “Kid of the Year” finalists Tyler Gordon, 14; Jordan Reeves, 14; Bellen Woodard, 10; and Ian McKenna, 16.

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