Anika Nayak is only 16; but like many others her age, she’s already planned out how she’s going to change the world.
The Tampa, Florida based changemaker and activist got started long before she established her own organization — as far as she’s concerned, activism is innate. She’s an Indian-American. She’s a young person. She’s also a girl.
Those identities are labels she wears proudly and parts of her that are, at many times, reasons for the struggles she faces. Growing up at the intersections, though, has provided her access to a inimitable perspective. Nayak’s perspective is compounded with experiences she’s had because of her Indian-American heritage, womanhood, or youth.
“I’m pursuing something that many in my culture feel is unconventional,” she said. “I understand that limits me, and keeping in mind everyone’s different backgrounds is a reminder that our limitations are different.”
When Nayak founded The Activist Express in August 2018, she had initial feelings of frustration, helplessness, and [somehow] a hint of hope. That hint of hope was enough spark to give Nayak reason to keep going in order to empower others.
When she looks to the future, she’s thinking big. She’s also thinking youth. World peace and acceptance aren’t Gen Z exclusive concepts, but Nayak is a firm believer in the fact that young people today will be a driving force towards radical empathy and change.
To her, the future looks bright. She hasn’t figured out all the kinks, but she’s staying grounded in her values.
“I want to make a difference in someone else’s life,” she said. “We benefit from leading others to success, and that success to me looks like a future where we no longer have to fight for our rights.”
Nayak is rising by lifting others — and that’s just the way she likes it.
Keep up with her on Instagram
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Full feature edited by Laurel Prime
Designed by Kathryn Zix