A Q&A with Peer Leader Sophie Araque Liu, Winner of the 2022 Doodle for Google Contest
Sophie Araque Liu of Martin County High School shows us that every Peer Leader has their own unique power to share. Sophie completed her Peer Leader training this summer with renewed courage to use her power as a visual artist to make a positive impact on her school. She went on to win the 2022 Doodle for Google contest, which awarded her school a $50,000 technology package and $30,000 for her college education! We chatted with Sophie about how she leverages her passions for art and education to be a leader for her community.
Q: How have you used your talent as an artist to connect with others?
Sophie: Through art, I can express my deepest thoughts and cares. Art has let me open up to people and show them how I think and feel, whether it is gratitude or sadness. In the same way, looking at other people’s art helps me understand them on a deeper level as well. Art has helped me connect to others by seeing the world through other people’s eyes and letting them see the world through mine.
Q: Why did you choose to become a Peer Leader? What motivates you to pursue a college education?
Sophie: I chose to become a Peer Leader in order to help other people and change their lives. I believe that high school is one of the most important points in someone’s life. Helping other people pursue a college education can easily change their lives, and in a world where there is a seemingly inescapable difference between low- and high-income households, I believe that a college education gives the children of the future a chance to escape the cycle of poverty. I choose to pursue a college education because I believe it will help me grow into a better and more responsible person. I also understand just how significant college and higher education are to improving my own career prospects in the future.
Q: PeerForward’s mission is based on the idea that every person has the power to make a positive impact on others. What is one way that PeerForward has shown you that you have the power to bring change to your community?
Sophie: In one of the campaigns my PeerForward team ran, we entered various classrooms at our school and presented an interactive game to help the students better understand post-secondary education and its importance. The class was almost entirely freshmen who were not particularly interested in learning about college or trade school. When we asked them, many in the class said they were planning on going straight into the workforce after high school and did not even consider college as an option for them. I have always been a quiet person, and tend to struggle with public speaking and presentations, so this campaign was particularly difficult for me. As the class went on, we answered many questions about why going to college was so important as well as what it is like. We did our best to try to keep them engaged and active, but still, we struggled to manage such a large class for the first time. Eventually, their attention began to wane. But one girl who seemingly wasn’t paying attention, in the beginning, started to become more and more genuinely interested in what we were saying and began to ask questions of us. I think this was such a significant moment for our PeerForward team because it showed that even if we struggle or have to step out of our comfort zones, even if most of them don’t listen to us, all we need is one. If we can just change one person’s life, it is worth going to any length.
We all have the power to make a positive change. When you support PeerForward, you are empowering hundreds of Peer Leaders like Sophie to become leaders in their community through student-led change. Every gift makes a difference, donate here.