Admit’s outside-the-box essay says #BlackLivesMatter — 100 times

April 5, 2017, 12:32 a.m.

In response to the “What matters to you, and why?” question on Stanford’s undergraduate application, new Stanford admit Ziad Ahmed wrote these three words 100 times: #BlackLivesMatter.

The unusual approach to the standard application essay has drawn significant attention since Ahmed shared his response on social media, prompting articles from news outlets like The Huffington Post and the Daily Mail. Ahmed said in a profile by Mic that the essay represents his “unapologetic progressivism” and commitment to justice.

Admit's outside-the-box essay says #BlackLivesMatter — 100 times
New admit Ziad Ahmed repeated the phrase #BlackLivesMatter 100 times in one of his application essays (Courtesy of Ziad Ahmed).

Ahmed tweeted both his #BlackLivesMatter essay and his acceptance letter on Saturday, receiving over 2,600 likes and 800 retweets.

“I was actually stunned when I opened the update and saw that I was admitted,” Ahmed said in an email to Mic. “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 that his Islamic faith is one of the main reasons he supports the BLM movement. He said it would be wrong of him to “turn a blind eye” to the daily injustices against the black community.

“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. “Furthermore, it’s critical to realize that one-fourth to one-third of the Muslim community in America are black … and to separate justice for Muslims from justice for the black community is to erase the realities of the plurality of our community.”

Although he wanted to express his support for the movement, Ahmed said that wanted to let the words of the BLM community speak for themselves in his application, rather than focus on himself.

Ahmed said he has always been involved in activism. He was recognized as a Muslim-American change-maker by the Obama administration, and he was invited to the White House Iftar Dinner, a yearly reception to celebrate Ramadan. In 2015, Ahmed delivered a TedxTalk about the impact of stereotypes, drawing on his perspective as a Muslim teenager.

Ahmed is a senior at Princeton Day School in New Jersey and worked for both the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Martin O’Malley youth presidential campaign. Ahmed has founded two youth organizations focused on activism. He was also admitted to Yale and Princeton.

According to Mic, Stanford University declined to comment, stating that it “[does] not discuss student applications.”


Contact Gillian Brassil at gbrassil ‘at’

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