by Justine Hudock
Student Community Engagement, Knovva Academy
Aashna’s name, with that gorgeous Sanskrit double A, makes my introduction to this Exceptional Delegate recipient easy: Aashna’s not just an A student — she’s a double A dynamo.
Her multiplicity doesn’t stop at her last name, either: Could you have guessed that this girl has already, at her tender age, lived in five countries? That she’s the VP of her school’s Red Cross club? That she swims competitively? The only thing I compete with when I swim is the water itself.
Aashna loves neapolitan pizza and the color periwinkle (listen to that alliteration!) and she doesn’t have a favorite film or book. That’s right, don’t show favoritism; the other books and films might be listening in…
Give Aashna a round of applause for her commendation as an Exceptional Delegate, and lend your eyes to her post-lauding interview!
Justine Hudock: Give us the rundown! What’s your name, where are you from, what year are you in school… and what’s a silly, fun fact about you?
Aashna K.: My name is Aashna. At the moment, I live in Minnesota, in the United States. However, I’m ethnically from India, I was born in Thailand, and I’ve also lived in Singapore, Germany, and Switzerland. I’m a senior in high school. A silly, fun fact about me is that I’m a huge Swiftie!
JH: How did you become interested in climate change and sustainability?
AK: I first became interested in climate change and the sustainability of our world in preparation for a trip that I was supposed to take to Borneo, Indonesia last summer through an organization called Operation Wallacea. Opwall takes kids like me on trips to learn from and work with
researchers in locations all over the world. It’s postponed to the summer of 2021, but I’m still really passionate about protecting our planet!
JH: How does sustainability influence your decisions? To what extent does your interest in climate change inform your goals or who you are as a person?
AK: I’m interested in studying environmental science in college. I would love to combine this with another passion for global connections and continue this into a future career. I’m still figuring it out, but I would love to be a field scientist or create a sustainable technology business when I’m older.
JH: What advice do you have for other students who may be interested in following a similar path toward environmental friendliness and mindfulness?
AK: I would tell them to be open to learning new ways of thinking. Understand that everyone has a different perspective on the issue, and that every one of them is valid. If you only have a “single story” of the issue, you won’t be solving it for everyone, which is the ultimate goal.
JH: What were some key takeaways from your experience at the Climate Change Summit?
AK: I learned that if something isn’t working, you can step in and be a leader. Due to language barriers, my group was having some trouble getting things done. I found the agendas, and got us organized! In the end, we had a great presentation and I was so proud of everyone in my Country Delegation.
JH: What was your favorite part about the Summit?
AK: My favorite part of the Summit was learning from the speakers. They brought up issues I had never thought of before, and they just made me so excited to learn more!
JH: What do you do for other extracurriculars? Anything from academic-based stuff, to sports, or other recreational fun!
AK: I’m on the board of my local Interact Club (a Rotary organization) and VP of the Red Cross Club at my school. I also swim competitively. During the summer, I’m a lifeguard and I love to go to YMCA camp Menogyn in the Boundary Waters. I also like to sing (in a choir) and go on adventures with my friends!
JH: Looking ahead, how do you hope to use the skills and experiences you’ve gained at the Model G20 Summit in your career or future schooling?
AK: I learned priceless communication skills that I will use in the future, such as how to speak effectively to those who don’t speak english as their first language. I also learned a lot about my country, and I would love to visit and/or do a research project on it.
JH: If you could invent something that would make life easier for people (perhaps climate change-related), what would you invent?
AK: I would probably create a learning service or a game for kids to learn about climate change, how they take part in it, and how they are global citizens. I think that teaching kids that they have an impact on the whole world is super important, as well as them knowing current issues and how they affect people differently.
JH: Fill in the blanks. The wisest thing anyone ever told me was ___ and it helped me to ___.
AK: The wisest thing that anyone ever told me was that life is too short to not do the things you love and it helped me to follow my passions, be brave, and do things just for me.
JH: What is one goal you would like to achieve in the next five years (personal or professional)?
AK: I would like to travel to a place I’ve never been before, and fully immerse myself in someone else’s life, no matter how different from mine.
JH: Do you have any other opportunities for leadership in your life? If so, what is your perspective on good leadership? What does it mean to evolve as a leader?
AK: Yes! There is an opportunity to be a leader in all aspects of life. To be a good leader, one has to listen to others, take charge of achieving goals, work hard, and care about what they do. To evolve as a leader is to adapt to every obstacle that comes your way, and to learn from others. A good leader does things not for themselves, but for the good of the people they lead.
JH: Any college plans laid down yet? Intended major or minor? Dream school?
AK: I intend to pursue some sort of environmental science at college. I’m still hearing back from schools, so I’m not sure where I want to go yet.
JH: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
AK: People are surprised to learn I’ve lived in five countries throughout my life.
Class at school?
AP US Literature and Language, because although it was the hardest class I’ve ever taken, I learned invaluable skills.
I don’t have favorite books or movies!
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”