My name is Aditi Bagepalli, and I am a junior at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, CA.
The world today is driven by innovation and leadership, which is derived from a deep sense of curiosity and a strong problem-solving nature. As a social entrepreneur and an activist, I yearn to solve the world’s most pressing social problems. It is through these qualities that I have excelled in my passions of Indian classical dance, Bollywood dance, mixed martial arts, volleyball, etc. But, the most defining quality that I possess is taking initiative.
The achievement I am most proud of is the creation of my non-profit foundation, ‘Will Be There.’ Will Be There Foundation, nonprofit 501(c)(3), has the mission to meaningfully help the teenage community by addressing teenage issues and develop leadership skills which require passion, patience, and collaboration to benefit the community at large
After a freshman committed suicide in my school, I was determined to fight for a change. Not only did his death severely impact the community, it also taught me the value of life and speaking up. Understanding the significance of social media, I initiated a 60 second video-contest platform to allow teenagers to voice their opinion on teenage issues such as depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, drug/alcohol abuse, obesity, academic problems, peer pressure, (cyber)bullying, and social issues. This video contest had a widespread impact covering more than 5200 high school students and more than 60,000 families in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District/Oakland Unified School District.
Another initiative Will Be There Foundation has conducted is a unique seminar and educational program for girls and young women, “Girls Body Image, Girls Self Esteem, Girls in Sports and Girls in Technology”. The response from the teenage community was overwhelming and more than 1000 girls participated. This seminar experience motivated me to conduct self-defense weekend workshops for 300 high school girls in the community to improve their self-confidence.
Will Be There Foundation also designed and organized “Ripples 2018,” the largest teen leadership/entrepreneurship conference in the Bay Area (with 250 attendees) to develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills with a growth mindset. The conference offered workshops on topics such as “Mindset for Success”, “Building Business without raising Money”, “Success Stories – Turning—Entrepreneurs into CEO’s”, “Money Intelligence”, “Entrepreneurship – Boot Camp – idea to market,” all conducted by the Bay Area’s best businessmen, entrepreneurs, and professors.
With 500 hours of hard work, Will Be There Foundation’s initiatives and projects have empowered teens to be a positive force of change in their communities as well as bringing attention to mental health awareness, self-care programs, leadership and entrepreneurship.
Volunteerism has given me a purpose in life to help others. Volunteering in my community has helped me to understand to look beyond myself, participate in civic engagement and show empathy. Interacting with students from a variety of backgrounds and sharing experiences with them has given me a deep insight on the different perspectives and needs people have and has helped me meet many new friends. My experiences have taught me that whether kids come from an affluent or underprivileged school district, the issues among teenagers are the same.
I’m inspired by good citizens—people who contribute to their communities. Society heavily relies on good citizens to function, but its importance is not talked about much. They’re everywhere in the country, filling holes that our government can’t fill. I am blown away by dedicated people helping hold society together. I’m a big believer in the power of one–that one person, one action— can have a ripple effect which can make a difference.