When Ziad Ahmed sat down to fill out his Stanford University application, he was not able to hide his passion for standing with the underdog.
Under “What matters to you, and why?” the Bangladeshi-American teen wrote: “#BlackLivesMatter,” repeating the iconic hashtag exactly 100 times.
To the applicant, this decision served as a way to bring attention to the many cases of police brutality and how it disproportionately impacts people of color.
“As an ally of the black community ... it is my duty to speak up in regards to the injustice, and while this was not a form of 'activism' as it was simply an answer in a college application,” he told Mic. “I wanted to make a statement.”
And he sure did — Stanford accepted him as a student.
The New Jersey high school senior is a practicing Muslim, and as he received the acceptance letter, he couldn't contain his happiness, telling MIC he was “stunned” at what he read.
“Everyone who received your application was inspired by your passion, determination, accomplishments, and heart,” the prestigious university wrote the teen. “... You are, quite simply, a fantastic match with Stanford. You will bring something original and extraordinary to our campus — a place where you can learn, grow, and thrive.”
While the teen told reporters he was not expecting to be admitted, he added that “it's quite refreshing to see that they view my unapologetic activism as an asset rather than a liability.”
Overcome with joy, Ahmed posted a shot of his application and acceptance letter on Twitter.
And thousands of people liked and shared his accomplishment.
@ziadtheactivist forever in love with your audacity— sammy park (@thesammypark) April 1, 2017
Before making his mark as an anti-police brutality activist, the teen had already been invited to the White House Iftar dinner when President Barack Obama was in charge, and recognized as a Muslim-American change-maker. In 2016, Ahmed also worked as an intern for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"To me,” the teen said, “to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can't imagine it being any other way for me."
Adding that “one-fourth to one-third of the Muslim community in America are black,” Ahmed stated that separating “justice for Muslims from justices for the black community is to erase the realities of the plurality of our community.”
Being the founder of the organization Redefy, Ahmed is also on the forefront of the fight against racial stereotypes.
His organization is comprised of 200 high school students who hope to “defy stereotypes, embrace acceptance and tolerance, redefine our perspectives positively, and create an active community,” its mission statement claims.
Having been accepted not only by Stanford, but also by both Yale and Princeton universities, the teen is now in the privileged position of choosing which established institution will get him as a student — he needs to make up his mind by May 1. But even if Ahmed doesn't end up picking Stanford, his decision to make a statement on the application has already helped revitalize an important hashtag and helped to bring more attention to the police brutality issue.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters