Tuesday 25 July 2017

Meet the student who got into Stanford after writing #BlackLivesMatter 100 times on his application

By Prudence Wade

Ziad Ahmed is one impressive 18-year-old.

Most students would be stunned to be accepted into the prestigious Stanford University, but perhaps none more so than Ziad Ahmed.

Why? Because he answered the application question “What matters to you, and why?” in a pretty bold way: by writing “#BlackLivesMatter” 100 times. And that’s it.

FYI – this was just one part of the application, but it is still admittedly a pretty daring move.

However, it’s pretty unsurprising that Ahmed was accepted into Stanford when you take into account what the 18-year-old has already achieved.

He has interned for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and also given a Ted Talk in 2015 called “Our age does limit our activism.”

Not only this, but Ahmed founded Redefy – a student organisation that addresses stereotypes – in 2013 “because he believes fervently in justice for all,” alongside running a a youth consulting company called JUV Consulting.

In case Ahmed didn’t already have enough going on, he also writes poetry and takes photographs. His website says: “Overwhelmingly though, Ziad is just your average teenager… grappling with identity, struggling to balance it all, and pursuing his passions.” We respect that, although something tells us that Ahmed is far from your average teenager.

As you can see, Ahmed dedicates a lot of his time to activism, so his answer promoting #BlackLivesMatter is hardly out of character – even though he is not black himself.

“To me, to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can’t imagine it being any other way for me,” Ahmed told Mic. “Furthermore, it’s critical to realise that one-fourth to one-third of the Muslim community in America are black… and to separate justice for Muslims from justice for the black community is to erase the realities of the plurality of our community.”

This concept of being an ally is something that Ahmed is acutely aware of, showing again what a woke teenager he is.

Ahmed realises that activism needs to be more than just words on a page, and instead converted into action and real change.

This is why Ahmed is using the buzz around the tweet about his application to direct people’s attention to other BLM activists and worthwhile endeavours.

His application and the way that he’s followed it up is a powerful statement that people are absolutely loving.

Stanford has declined to comment on Ahmed’s viral answer, telling Mic they “do not discuss student applications”.

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