After writing #BlackLivesMatter 100 times on his Stanford University application, Princeton Day School senior Ziad Ahmed received a fateful letter. Ahmed, an activist and founder of the teen organization Redefy, found out Friday he had been accepted into Stanford's class of 2021. At the time of this writing, a tweet from Ahmed announcing his Stanford admittance has been retweeted nearly 2,000 times:
In an interview with Mic's Sarah A. Harvard Monday, Ahmed said he was "stunned" to learn he had been admitted. "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," Ahmed said, adding that his "progressivism" is central to his identity.
Ahmed, 18, told Mic his activism and Islamic faith simply go hand in hand. "To me, to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can't imagine it being any other way for me," Ahmed said.
In addition to founding Redefy and blogging for the Huffington Post, Ahmed's work has taken him to the White House during Obama's presidency and to the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign. While interning for the Clinton campaign, Ahmed penned an impassioned op-ed for the Post entitled "The Battle Hymns of an American-Muslim Teen in the Era of Trump." In the piece, Ahmed criticized Trump's "grotesque rhetoric" and outlined its impact on his generation's future.
"Trump has created a United States that asks of me to prove my American identity," Ahmed wrote in October. "The norm for each Muslim student in this country has become being accused of being a 'terrorist' at some point in his/her/their life. But more problematically, it has become the assumption that one can somehow not be both authentically Muslim and American simultaneously, and that is what gets me more than anything else."
In 2015, Ahmed gave a 16-minute TedxTalk on youth activism:
In the days since his Stanford tweet went viral, Ahmed has been directing followers old and new to support #BlackLivesMatter:
Ziad Ahmed did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment. For more on his work, visit his website.