Teacher and student from Ypsi school chosen to participate in international Bezos Scholars program

Dyuthi Aryasomayajula and Daniel Giddings, a student-teacher pair from Washtenaw International High School (WiHi) in Ypsilanti, have been named among the 2023 Bezos Scholars. Bezos Scholars is a competitive leadership development program that annually chooses a cohort of 12 to 17 students from across the U.S. and Africa paired with an educator from the same school.

Aryasomayajula, 17, is a rising senior. Her Bezos Scholarship will kick off with an all-expenses-paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival in June. The rest of her one-year scholarship will include virtual training and an opportunity to apply for a $1,000 grant to create a Community Change Project that will positively impact the recipient's community. 

The youth participant gets to nominate a teacher sponsor, and Aryasomayajula chose Giddings because of his involvement with WiHi's student government. Giddings says the teenager is already a leader and he fully expected her to be among those chosen for the scholarship.

"Dyuthi is hard to say 'no' to in the best possible way," Giddings says. "Because of that leadership side of her, you want to work with her and collaborate with her on whatever she's doing."

Aryasomayajula says she's still early in the grant-writing process, but she's interested in pursuing a school-based yoga club. She took an online course in her freshman year and has been teaching as a certified yoga instructor since then.

"One thing I'm passionate about is mental health issues in our school, and especially mental health struggles due to the pandemic," she says, noting that yoga helps promote mindfulness through deep breathing and other techniques. "I want to give students a better way to cope beyond the ways they already have."

Both student and teacher are excited about the Aspen Ideas Festival. Giddings says he's excited to meet other educators and trade ideas on how to inspire young people.

Aryasomayajula says she's excited to meet the other youth scholars and have a chance to connect with world leaders. At the top of her list are Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, former chief medical advisor to the president, who she says is one of her inspirations for pursuing a post-high school career as a pediatric surgeon.

Read more about the entire 2023 Bezos Scholars cohort here.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photos courtesy of Bezos Scholars.
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