This local teen is on a mission to change the world for the better

Seminole High School student recognized for community activism

OVIEDO, Fla. – A student from Seminole High School is striving to change the world by combining her two passions: writing and politics.

Malavika Kannan said she hopes to make a difference in her community.

"When you see movements empowered entirely by teenagers across the country, I would hesitate to say that teenagers aren't involved in terms of making a difference in their communities," Kannan said.

She said people should not underestimate her generation. 

"I think teenage girls do a lot more than people give them credit for," Kannan said.

Born to immigrants parents from India, Kannan wants to be a voice for minority groups who she believes aren't traditionally represented.

"It's not because we don't have the talent or we don't have the stories or we don't have the idea. It's because the world hasn't been listening to them," she said. "I really hope that my contributions have done a lot in terms of pushing the cultural needle forward."

She hopes her contributions are changing cultural perspectives and are helping empower others to speak their truth. After the 2016 presidential election, she became more interested in politics. 

"That gave me the impetus to start getting involved politically, whether it was advocating against gun violence through March For Our Lives or starting my own nonprofit organization, Homegirl Project, which politically empowers women of color," she said. 

In 2018, she was a youth member chosen to help plan the Women's March in Washington D.C. 

But her biggest passion is writing. Her pieces have been featured in the Washington Post, Teen Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, among other well-known publications.

Her first novel, "The Bookweaver's Daughter," will be published next year.

"It's a middle grade feminist fantasy novel that's set in ancient India. It's inspired by a lot of, like, the fantasy books I read growing up like 'Harry Potter,' 'Percy Jackson' but it definitely has a spin of social justice that I didn't consciously intend but I think just came out because of the person that I am," Kannan said.

Throughout the years, she's received numerous recognitions and awards. Last year she won a national writing competition for the Library of Congress.

Kannan is getting ready to attend Stanford University on a full scholarship. Although she's moving to the West Coast, eventually she wants to come back home, where she says there's still lots of work to be done.

"I've been working here doing grass roots and community organizing for, like, years now, and really come back and see if I can change it from the other side of the door which is by, like, actually running for office," she said.

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