For nine years of school, I was bullied due to my unique interest in STEM and my body weight. I was often classified as the unwanted kid and the class weirdo, thus being cut off from social groups. In those moments of discouragement and disappointment, I found inspiration and escape in TED Talks.
From Simon Sinek’s legendary How great leaders inspire action to Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The power of passion and perseverance and Adam Grant’s The surprising habits of original thinkers, each video helped me develop a strong sense of self, understand what truly matters to me, and create a vision for who I wanted to be. I decided to act on the hopes I have for the future, not the fears from yesterday, and I signed up for my school debate team.
Then, three years ago, I joined the first-ever TED-Ed Club in my area, where I had the chance to create my own TED-style Talk. For the first time, I was able to not only showcase my perspective and experience as a victim of bullying, but give advice to other students who struggled. Through speaking, I managed to heal my wounds and motivate other students to rise beyond their surroundings.
A year later, I used the TED-Ed Student Talks platform again to share the message of the power of never giving up. Then just when everything seemed like it was going perfectly, North Macedonia became trapped in endless quarantines and lockdowns. My journey to becoming a student in the United States was replaced by Zoom screens. To receive a full college experience, I decided to take a gap year, or as I like to call it, a bridge year, before enrolling in an American university. Though this wasn’t an easy decision, I applied the message I shared in my Talk and asked myself: if I chose to take one lesson from an unusual and distinctive year like 2020, what would it be? I chose to embrace the discovery of my passion and purpose.
I tried to enroll in gap year programs but they were all so expensive, and then a TED-Ed newsletter changed my life when they shared the opportunity to apply to Global Citizen Year Academy, a semester-long launchpad towards a purposeful life. Leadership, global cohort, speakers, and motivation? It had everything I needed.
I registered for the Global Citizen Year Academy in June 2020 and a month later I received my acceptance letter with a full scholarship. From that night until today, it’s felt like I have the world at my fingertips. I’ve also received a strong community, delightful enthusiasm, and opportunity to embrace leadership as a practice, and not as a position on my resume.
Utilizing the resources and knowledge I’ve gained on project management, human-centered design, and empathy, I wondered how I could be the hero of my community. To break the misconception that living sustainably is an expensive and challenging commitment, I founded the organization and technology platform EnRoute, an upcoming personalized mobile application that lets users harness their transport, shopping, and household activities to reduce their carbon footprint, rewarding them with real-life prizes for every reduced gram of CO2.
Global Citizen Year Academy made me aware of the power and passion our generation holds and I’ve connected it to harness the small everyday actions and reduce their carbon footprint. EnRoute received the Social Impact Award of 2020 and won the Grand Prize on Girls Voices For Future Contest. And most importantly, EnRoute has reduced over 100,000 kg of CO2 emissions.
As for myself, I’ve learned how to share my voice, turn passion into purpose, motivate others, and create a new generation of climate heroes.
Check out Angela’s Talk on the power of never giving up:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angela Busheska is a 19-year-old upcoming student at Lafayette College and a Macedonian social entrepreneur, researcher-innovator, and speaker. She is the Founder & CEO of EnRoute, uses the power of STEM to make a change and, as a victim of severe bullying, she shares her voice to motivate fellow teenagers. In 2020, she was recognized as a “Youth Talent” by the President of North Macedonia and took part in the Global Citizen Year Academy assisted by the Shawn Mendes Foundation. At the end of the day, she is an unshakable optimist and a big dreamer who believes that the power of never giving up is the only thing that can bring miracles in life. You can check the full bio on her website.