“What matters to you, and why?” For Bangladeshi-American Ziad Ahmed, the answer was clear: #BlackLivesMatter.
The 18-year-old from New Jersey wrote this 100 times on his Stanford application and was accepted by the university, reports Mic
He said he "wanted to make a statement" as he felt obligated to speak about the injustice as an ally of the black community.
describes him as "an American-Muslim, Bangladeshi, and passionate social justice activist … resolved to work towards a world safe for all and accepting of everyone."
Ziad told the Mic: "To me, to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can't imagine it being any other way for me."
On Friday, he received the acceptance letter. The senior at Princeton Day School posted his answer and acceptance letter on Twitter
"I didn't think I would get admitted to Stanford at all, but it's quite refreshing to see that they view my unapologetic activism as an asset rather than a liability," he said.
Ziad told the NBC News
: "The hashtag conveys my frustration with the failure of judicial system to protect the black community from violence, systemic inequity, and political disenfranchisement."
He later clarified on Twitter that there was more to his application than that single reply.
His work as an activist has won accolades from various quarters. In 2013, he founded Redefy, a teen organisation committed to defy stereotypes. He also co-founded JÜV Consulting
, a youth consulting firm.
President Obama recognised him as a Muslim-American change-maker at the 2015 White House Iftar dinner
. MTV and Business Insider named him among the top teens changing the world.
Ziad also worked
for the presidential campaigns of Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton.
He has spoken at the MUPPIES 2015 Annual Conference, AMHP's #MuslimYouthIdentity Event, the Bangladeshi Computer Literacy Program's Annual Fundraiser, and gave a TEDxTalk
in Panama City, Panama. He is also a contributing blogger
for the Huffington Post.
Apart from Stanford, Ziad said he had been accepted to Yale and Princeton. He will have to choose among the universities by May 1.
The Stanford acceptance letter Ziad posted on Twitter says: "Everyone who reviewed your application was inspired by your passion, determination, accomplishments, and heart."
"My unapologetic progressivism is a central part of my identity, and I wanted that to be represented adequately in my application,” Ziad said.