US First Lady Michelle Obama has selected 16-year-old Indian-American Swetha Prabakaran to serve in the inaugural Student Advisory Board of an education campaign which seeks to provide educational opportunities for teenagers in America.
Swetha, whose parents immigrated from Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli in 1998, was chosen for ‘Better Make Room’ campaign’s Student Advisory Board in recognition of her efforts to educate youth in the field of computer sciences.
The board members will be traveling to the White House on Thursday to attend Michelle’s School Counselor of the Year Ceremony.
Born in Indianapolis, she is among seventeen students selected by the White House to serve on ‘Better Make Room’ Student Advisory Board. The inaugural Board has 12 high school students and five college students.
Swetha, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, is the founder and CEO of Everybody Code Now!, a non-profit body working to empower the next generation of youth to become engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs.
She is the only Indian-American in the list.
Two-thirds of the Board members are, or will be, the first in their families to attain a postsecondary degree.
“As proven leaders, organisers, changemakers and innovators, these students will help the country achieve President (Barack) Obama’s North Star goal, that our nation will once again lead the world in college completion rates,” Better Make Room said in a statement.
Founded by Michelle, the board will work to create a college-going, college-persisting and college-graduating culture at their schools while connecting fellow students for any information and resources they need.
“I am deeply honoured to be able to serve on this board. Creating a college-going and college-graduating culture among youth is something we have worked to encourage through Everybody Code Now!, and I am extremely excited to share this passion with even more students.
“I look forward to working with The First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative and my fellow Better Make Room Student Advisory members to encourage more students to pursue higher education,” Swetha said.
Also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, Swetha was honoured as a 2015 White House Champion of Change. She was also named to the International Literacy Association’s 2016 ‘30 Under 30’.