The Internet Society today announced the awardees of its 25 under 25 program. One of the many initiatives supporting the Internet Society’s 25th Anniversary, the program recognizes 25 young people from around the globe who are passionate about using the Internet to make a positive impact in their communities and the world. Representing 19 countries on five continents, the 25 Under 25 awardees’ initiatives include creating an anti-cyberbullying youth movement in Australia, providing e-health education to teens in Tanzania, and using ICTs to break the cycle of poverty for families in Costa Rica. While their individual accomplishments are noteworthy in their own right, together these 25 awardees highlight how today’s youth are helping to shape the future. As Kathryn Brown, Internet Society President and CEO, notes, “their efforts have a tremendous impact, creating new ways of socializing, mobilizing and organizing in a digital world. By recognizing these individuals, we aim to inspire other young people around the world to become actors of change and use the Internet for social good.” The 25 Under 25 awardees will be formally recognized at a special ceremony on Monday, 18 September in Los Angeles, California.
Poornima Meegammana, 24, Sri Lanka
Preventing cyber-harassment of teenage girls
Poornima founded the Respect Girls on Internet project out of concern for her teenage peers in Sri Lanka, many of whom face online hostility. Her experience is that teenagers typically start using the Internet without any knowledge about cyber safety or privacy.
Poornima and her team of volunteers worked with partners to make digital content on Internet safety available in local languages to ensure accessibility for all. One of the project’s most significant outputs is a Cyber Privacy e-Handbook, for teenagers new to the Internet, as well as teachers and parents.
Through her project, Poornima has enabled safer and more respectful Internet use, helped support victims of cyber harassment, and developed a network of youth committed to preventing future harassment. She is solving a problem rooted in the Internet by using the Internet.
We couldn’t be more proud—this year our inaugural class of Adobe Creativity Scholars is graduating from college, and they’re ready to bring their creative talents and passion for social issues into everything they do.
We started the Creativity Scholarship initiative back in 2012, when our State of Create Study brought something troubling to our attention—nearly 60 percent of people told us that creativity was being stifled in the education system. Since we believe that creativity and self-expression are some of the most important skills students should be learning in school and critical lifelong abilities, we wanted to help make a change.
Our Creativity Scholarship identifies 25 promising young students each year who want to integrate their passions for social issues with their creative talents. We provide these Scholars with the funding they need to attend college. In turn, we hope they’ll share their talents with the world, use their creativity to open minds, and become role models for the next generation. Here’s a peek at what three of our Creativity Scholars were up to during their school years, and where they’re headed next.
Poornima Meegammana, AOD International Design Campus, Sri Lanka
Poornima Meegammana is about to graduate from her studies in animation at AOD International Design Campus. “The Creativity scholarship gave me global recognition as a creative person,” she says. “It gave me the opportunity to study animation, which is something I love and I’m really passionate about. Without out the scholarship I would have never been able to afford the education I got.”
When she isn’t focused on her schoolwork, Poornima is dedicated to protecting women and girls from online harassment. Her project, Respect Girls on Internet, advocates for safe, respectful discourse online, and helps fill the gap in local-language digital resources for women who’ve experienced online harassment.
In the future, Poornima plans to keep following both of her passions. “After graduation I’m planning to continue my education on animation and also continue my work on social development and film making. Right now, I’m working on my first original animated short film.”
Alvaro Ceballos, Pratt Institute, New York
Alvaro Ceballos just graduated from Pratt Institute with a major in film, and a deep concern for social and racial equality. During school, Alvaro joined youth organizations working to make a difference in people’s lives—one of his most recent projects with the Urban Arts Partnership helped youth get involved in the movement against the discriminatory policing policy, stop-and-frisk. In school, scholarship funds helped Alvaro get the filmmaking equipment he needed for his creative projects, and allowed him to film his senior thesis, Mauro y Lulú, in his homeland, the Dominican Republic. The film brings viewers into the Dominican culture and landscape as it follows 10-year-old Mauro across the countryside in search of his beloved pet goat.
“As an immigrant in New York, I’ve faced a lot of challenges,” says Alvaro. “I try to see the positive side of every hard moment, and express myself through storytelling and video. For me, filmmaking is a powerful tool for storytelling and self expression.”
Now that he’s completed his degree, Alvaro plans to continue writing his own films, and dreams of someday directing his own feature film back in the Dominican Republic.
Sandra Suarez, Colegio Universitario IES, Argentina
Sandra Suarez fell in love with photography and design when she was 12. That was when she first got her hands on a toy digital camera and discovered photo editing tools. Within just a few years, she was interning at an ad agency. “Every day I observed people’s passion and happiness, and how everyone believed in design as a solution for people’s lives,” she remembers. About this time, she also found out she’d been awarded the Creativity Scholarship.
Now Sandra is just about to finish her degree at Colegio Universitario IES (the school year in Argentina ends in November). During school, she has donated her time and skills to causes dear to her. Most recently, she helped design an ad campaign for the City of Córdoba to prevent alcohol abuse among adolescents. She’s also been serious about launching her career. Even though she has a few more months of school, Sandra is working full-time as a designer in the marketing department at Comprando en Grupo, a hardware store cooperative, and spending her spare time helping teach high school students about design.
“I’ve found satisfaction and happiness in what I want to be and what I want to share. Each day I want to improve and learn and inspire others to know that you can be what you want to be,” says Sandra.