College essays are one of the toughest things to write for a student and is a major deciding factor for most world renowned universities.
So, when 18-year-old Ziad Ahmed applied to Stanford University, he was asked “What matters to you, and why?” – and only one thing came to his mind: #BlackLivesMatter
That’s what the high school senior wrote in his essay, exactly 100 times. He wrote the hashtag #BlackLivesMatters in the essay – and his risk paid off as he received an acceptance letter to the prestigious Stanford University.
“I was actually stunned when I opened the update and saw that I was admitted,” Ahmed said in an email to Mic.
“I didn’t think I would get admitted to Stanford at all, but it’s quite refreshing to see that they view my unapologetic activism as an asset rather than a liability.”
“Everyone who received your application was inspired by your passion, determination, accomplishments, and heart,” his acceptance letter read.
It added: “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.”
Ahmed also tweeted a screenshot of his application on Twitter, which was liked and shared over a 1000 times.
The Bangladeshi-American takes his faith and its principles seriously.
For Ahmed, his Islamic faith and commitment to justice go hand in hand. He says he wouldn’t be practicing his religion correctly if he turned a blind eye to the injustices the black community faces.
“My unapologetic progressivism is a central part of my identity, and I wanted that to be represented adequately in my application,” Ahmed said.
“To me, to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can’t imagine it being any other way for me,” Ahmed added.
“Furthermore, it’s critical to realise that one-fourth to one-third of the Muslim community in America are black… and to separate justice for Muslims from justices for the black community is to erase the realities of the plurality of our community.”
The 18-year old has already made waves for his activism.
He was invited to the White House iftar dinner and recognised as a Muslim-American change-maker under the Obama administration. He also interned for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016. In 2015 he gave a TEDxTalk in Panama, where he discussed the stereotypes of being a Muslim teen.
In addition to Stanford, Ahmed has also been accepted to Yale University and Princeton University – both ivy league colleges. His major is undecided but he says he is interested in international relations, cognitive science, economics or comparative studies in race and ethnicity.
Stanford University declined to comment, stating that they “do not discuss student applications.”
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