Kiran Waqar (16, South Burlington, Vermont) is passionate about bringing positive change in other people’s lives. She transformed her love for slam poetry, advocacy, leadership and volunteering in a variety of projects that are making an impact on her community every day. She co-founded Muslim Girls Making Change, a slam poetry team that has competed internationally and has received international media attention. The organization promotes social justice through poetry and empowers women from ethnic minorities by helping them make their voices heard. The girls who helped co-found the organization compete on international level at slam poetry sessions to promote social awareness and change.

Kiran has worked with her local community to bring Muslim Girls Making Change to the spotlight. They have done performances all around the state, in parks, in museums, at schools, at open mics – every conceivable place!. At every performance they encourage youth to speak up and to let their voices be heard. They also direct people to their website where they are trying to create more volunteer opportunities.

Kiran has also used her talent and energy on a variety of other social change projects. As a first generation immigrant, she feels obliged to help refugees in this country adapt to their new environment and feel safe as well as engage as many young people as she can in community service. She helped raise 500 blankets for internally displaced Syrians and founded her local RESULTS chapter to tackle poverty. Kiran is a perfect example of how a young talented person can use all of her skills and talents to make a change in local community and worldwide.

Kiran is a believer in youth engagement. Throughout her projects, she has been able to raise awareness of young people on the issues she has been combating as well as explain the importance of young voices in today’s world. She is currently working with Young Writers Project, a local nonprofit, to hold open mics and programs to encourage greater opportunities for youth voices to be heard and to expand the work she has already started.