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TIME Kid of the Year: Scientist and Inventor Gitanjali Rao, 15

Yesterday, TIME, TIME for Kids and Nickelodeon announced 15-year-old scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao from Colorado as the 2020 Kid of the Year, the multiplatform initiative recognizing extraordinary young leaders who are making a positive impact in their communities.

TIME Kid of the Year: Scientist and Inventor Gitanjali Rao, 15
Gitanjali Rao: “I don’t look like your typical scientist.”

Gitanjali Rao, 15, is recognized as the 2020 Kid of the Year for her mission to create a global community of young innovators to solve the world’s biggest problems.

In an interview with Angelina Jolie for TIME, Rao spoke about her work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying: “I don’t look like your typical scientist. Everything I see on TV is that it’s an older, usually white man as a scientist... My goal has really shifted not only from creating my own devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well. Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it.”

2020 Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao is featured on the Dec. 14 cover of TIME.

Gitanjali Rao, alongside the other top finalists, will be recognized during the first-ever Kid of the Year TV special, hosted by Trevor Noah.

The Kid of the Year TV special will feature guest stars from entertainment, sports and pop culture to help surprise the top five Kid of the Year finalists and celebrate their work. Celebrity guests making appearances throughout the special include Kristen Bell, Simone Biles, Dixie D’Amelio, Billie Eilish, Rob Gronkowski, Neil Patrick Harris, Chris Hemsworth, Ken Jeong, Angelina Jolie, Chloe Kim, Brie Larson, Zachary Levi, Russell Westbrook and Malala Yousafzai, among others.