Anuja Gore has a simple piece of advice for underclassmen: Be weird.
As she prepares to graduate from Fort Collins High School, she hopes to leave behind a legacy of inclusion.
“Don’t be scared to be weird, and don’t be afraid to express your interests,” she said. “If someone makes fun of you, they are the ones who have a problem.”
For Anuja, the daughter of two immigrants, this philosophy has meant embracing and celebrating her Indian heritage. She learned to ignore the occasional side-eye she got when she ate the lunches she brought from home, and she co-founded the Asian Student Association to help other students celebrate their identities.
“I feel that as a community, (we) created a place where people were able to be their best selves and learn more about themselves comfortably.”
Anuja, a Boettcher Scholar recipient, is headed to the University of Colorado next year to study neuroscience and international affairs.
As she ponders her future, Anuja knows that she wants to help create positive change. She talks passionately about fighting for equality, a philosophy she adopted at a young age when she came face to face with extreme poverty on a family trip to Mumbai.
She vividly remembers sitting in the backseat of an air-conditioned car and locking eyes with a girl about her age, who was darting in and out of traffic to sell red balloons. Anuja realized their positions could have easily been reversed.
“So what am I going to do about it? That’s the question,” Anuja said. “I could sit here and do nothing. That is an option, or I could acknowledge that there are a lot of people out there, and they are like me … they just have different luck. You should take action, so you can say I did something about it.”