This 18-year-old is not one of those who sits back, complains about society and leaves it for the authorities to take notice. Pooja Nagpal, a Manhattan Beach resident who began her freshman year at UCL Berkeley last month, recently won the 2016 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for her work with 1,000 girls in India– teaching them self-defence.
Pooja has been training women in self-defence since she was in high school. She is also working towards her acquiring the third degree black belt. Only 25 students from across North America have earned the Gloria Barron Prize and only 15 of them have bagged a $5,000 scholarship from fantasy author T.A. Barron for their efforts to make positive change in the world.
When she started college, she realised that women’s safety was not just a Third World problem, but that women everywhere feel unsafe, a circumstance she wanted to change. Majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, Pooja wishes to develop a smartphone app which would showcase self-defence videos with instructions.
“I know some people who don’t want to go to the library at 11 at night because they’re scared, but they have to because they have a project due,” she said (as reported by Daily Breeze).
Women’s safety is a sensitive subject all over the world, and apart from the government, an individual should also know how to take care of him/herself and people around them in a state of emergency.
Pooja Nagpal also has a non-profit called For A Change, Defend for which she is raising funds to send supplies to Indian schoolgirls to help defend themselves. She began te initiative after hearing that dozens of girls in Bareilly were quitting school because of harassment. She says, “When anyone has to live their life in fear, whether a guy or a girl, it’s an impediment to education and empowerment.”
She is truly an inspiration to the youth who want to make a difference with their actions.
Feature Image courtesy: The Better India