By: Christina Morris, Senior Communications Intern
At only 17-years-old, Sanjana Buddi has shown that she has the power to make an impact in the world despite all limitations she may face.The Notre Dame senior gave a motivational speech at the TEDxCapeMay on October 14. Sanjana was one of the five featured students who spoke at the “Common Ground” themed event.
TED is a non-profit organization devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. To help spark conversation in local communities, TED created a program called TEDx, which are held at the regional level. TEDxCapeMay seeks to inspire and bring innovators together within the greater Cape May area.
Typically only adults are asked to speak at TEDx events, so Sanjana was honored to give her speech at such an uplifting event. Her speech, titled “The Power of Youth-Changing the World,” discussed her involvement with the organization PURE Youth. PURE Youth is a group whose mission is to provide education tools and raise money for schools in India.
The ND senior was inspired to work with the organization after her trip to India in 2015. Sanjana visited the high school that her parents attended, which was rather eye-opening. She came out of the school crying after realizing that she had numerous opportunities and benefits in life that students the same age as her did not have in India.
This visit motivated her to begin working with the charity when she arrived back in the United States. She created her own branch of PURE Youth in Lawrence, NJ and has assisted in establishing chapters across the US. Sanjana was able to fund her chapter through fundraising, bake sales and “GoFundMe.”
With the help of her friends and generous donations, she raised over $10,000 which she put towards buying supplies for schools in India. Since May 2017, Sanjana’s chapter of PURE Youth has helped over 30 schools and 8,000 children.
This past summer, she flew to India to volunteer at some of the schools for which she raised money.
“After I visited these schools with malnourished children with torn dresses, bare feet and aspiration in their eyes, it was an eye opening experience for me,” said Sanjana. “I wanted to help them fight their barriers and they helped me fight mine.”
At her TEDx talk, Sanjana discussed all of her accomplishments working with the charity and how her trip to India has impacted her life. Her main message was youth empowerment. Her goal was to inspire other teenagers her age to realize that they too can make an impact in the world through service work.
Sanjana credits her time at Notre Dame for helping her pursue this work. “Notre Dame has pushed me to become a more confident person and pursue service,” said Sanjana. “I don’t know where I would be without their support and assistance.”
We are so grateful to have a community of students who are extremely passionate about service. Notre Dame is so proud of Sanjana and her accomplishments with PUREYouth and her TEDx Talk.