Armenian student on shortlist for $100k Global Student Prize 2021

Nazeli Ter-Petrosyan, a 16-year-old student at Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex, , has been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021, a new $100,000 award to be given to one exceptional student that has made a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond.

Nazeli, shortlisted for the Global Student Prize 2021, was selected from over 3,500 nominations and applications from 94 countries around the world.

The Varkey Foundation launched the Chegg.org Global Student Prize earlier this year, a sister award to its $1 million Global Teacher Prize, to create a powerful new platform that shines a light on the efforts of extraordinary students everywhere who, together, are reshaping our world for the better. The prize is open to all students who are at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills program. Part time students as well as students enrolled in online courses are also eligible for the prize.

Together, the Global Student Prize and the Global Teacher Prize will tell inspirational stories from both sides of education. The prizes will shine a spotlight on the great work teachers do in preparing young people for the future and the amazing promise some of the brightest students are showing in their learning and far beyond.

Chegg.org has partnered with the Varkey Foundation to create the new Global Student Prize. Lila Thomas, Head of Chegg.org, said:

“In this age of COVID, students like Nazeli have shown great courage to keep studying and keep fighting for a better future despite huge obstacles. The Global Student Prize has been launched to shine a light on their stories and listen to their voices. After all, it is their dreams, their insights and their creativity that will help solve some of the greatest questions humanity has ever faced.

“Our finalists this year have a made a huge impact in areas from the environment to equality and justice, from health and wellbeing to education and skills, from youth empowerment to ending poverty.

“We were so inspired by the achievements of these extraordinary students throughout the world that applied for the inaugural Global Student Prize that Chegg chose to double the value of the prize to $100,000.”

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:

“Congratulations to Nazeli for reaching the final 50. Her story clearly highlights the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics. It is only by prioritizing education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. Education is the key to facing the future with confidence.”

Nazeli Ter-Petrosyan, a student at American University of Armenia, Yerevan, in June graduated from “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educational Complex where she has been teaching programming skills to her peers since the 6th grade. From the very start, Nazeli had such a passion for computing that she wanted to share her knowledge with everyone by teaching seminars, conducting workshops, and blogging for a general audience. By 10th grade, she was teaching robotics to 4th- and 5th-graders, and continues to do so today.

Nazeli has also lent out her skills to public-benefit organizations in need of support. In 2018, she created a website and provided free tech support for the NGO Delure, which provides juridical support for victims of violence, soldiers, and socially vulnerable people. Since September 2020, she has volunteered as a 3D modeler for the NGO Youth Opportunities, where she is designing and modeling a future learning center. At the age of just 14, she received the Armenian Prime Minister’s Best Student award for achievements in IT, and most recently, she won entrance and is now studying in the most competitive university in Armenia at the age of just 16 – despite the obstacles of coronavirus lockdowns and a second Artsakh war in the country.

Applications and nominations for this year’s student and teacher prizes opened on Tuesday 2 February and closed on Sunday 16 May. Students who applied for the Global Student Prize are being assessed on their academic achievement, impact on their peers, how they make a difference in their community and beyond, how they overcome the odds to achieve, how they demonstrate creativity and innovation, and how they operate as global citizens.

Following today’s announcement, the top 10 finalists of both the Global Student Prize and the Global Teacher Prize will be announced in October this year. The winners of both prizes will be chosen from the respective top 10 finalists by the Global Student Prize Academy and the Global Teacher Prize Academy, made up of prominent individuals. The winners are due to be announced at an awards ceremony in Paris in November. 

Should Nazeli win the Global Student Prize, she would like to use the funds for a variety of purposes. First, she would donate money to a foundation in her country that helps injured and handicapped soldiers. Second, she would support startups whose ideas and goals are similar to her own, to acquire further experience in the startup world. Third, some funds would be used for international volunteering and workshops, for example volunteering to teach English in Asian monasteries. Finally, part of the money would be used to pay her tuition for university.

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