Palak Bhatnagar
winners 2012 Palak Bhatnagar has lived in four countries and been exposed to many cultures. Despite challenges and discrimination, she has defended and remained proud of her culture. She was a leader in various organizations in high school, including Varsity Volleyball, the literary journal, Model UN and earned various academic accolades. Following a trip to South Africa where she interviewed statesmen such as Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Deputy Chair of the South African Human Rights Commission Pregs Govender, and witnessed the sharp contrasts of the rich and poor in that nation, Palak realized that “instead of digging up their land in search for diamonds and gold, (we should) help the people in need, because that’s where the real diamonds and gold lay.

In her American Dream essay, Palak defined the American Dream as “endless opportunities to succeed, make a difference and create your own identity.” She plans to use the opportunities that she has been given to help the less fortunate. Using the lessons from her South Africa trip that “unity is power, passion is success, struggle gives hopes and dreams are inspiration,” Palak hopes to stand up for those who don’t know what rights are.

In the Fall, Palak will attend American University in hopes to help people throughout the world.