New York Teen Bullied For Her Dark Skin Wins National 4-H $10,000 Scholarship

April 23, 2015  |  

Nosa Akol, a 17-year-old South Sudanese student bullied for her dark skin, didn’t allow the negativity to stop her from making progressive moves in her community. Recognized for her volunteer efforts, Akol was awarded a $10,000 scholarship, gifted by the National 4-H council, NBC News reports.

“People can be mean,” Akol said about the daily taunting she faced at school. They teased her for her complexion and called her “burnt toast,” she added. Although the bullying was difficult, Nosa said that the harassment helped change her perception of the world and how she treats others.

“That time taught me to be careful with what I say to others,” she says, “and to be sensitive to people’s feelings.”

Akol looked to her neighborhood to see how she could make a difference. The Binghamton High School student led a local nutrition program called “Taste the Rainbow” where she taught elementary school children about healthy eating habits.  The teen also developed a plan to fix the pot holes plaguing her community, Binghamton, NY,  and submitted them to city officials to rectify the issue. She called it the “Great Pothole Solution Project.”

Out of 80 candidates nationwide, the National 4-H council, the nation’s largest positive youth development organization, selected Akol to become the 2015 4-H Youth in Action award recipient — a national honor and prestigious accolade, according to Binghamton Homepage.

“I’m still trying to process everything that’s going on. I don’t think I’ve had the time yet to just sit down and actually go through my thoughts, so I’m excited for it, but I don’t think I’ve fully processed everything just yet,” she told The Root.

Akol gets $10,000 towards a college of her choosing. She plans to study agriculture and committing her life to empowering young women in developing countries such as South Sudan.

“The education in Sudan is different and the war would’ve made my life the complete opposite to what it is now,”she said, according to NBC News. “Instead of just sitting back and waiting for someone to do something, it would be faster and more efficient if I did something.”

“This triumphant day might have not come if Nosa had let the bullying get to her,” The Root said. ” It’s up to us if we want a better world for ourselves,” Akol pointed out.

Akol will receive her award on April 23rd at the 6th Annual Legacy Awards in Washington D.C.

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