Beautiful Minds Challenge Winners Announced

Winner Faza Hikmatulla posing with grandfather

March 24, 2017

Marlboro College is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Beautiful Minds Challenge, a competition for scholarships and cash prizes based on innovative ideas about social change. The first place entry came from Faza Hikmatulla of Jawa Barat, Indonesia, with second and third place entries from Hawaii and Zambia, respectively.

“We had an amazing diversity of projects this year, and more international submissions than ever before,” said Kate Trzaskos, director of community programs and partnerships at Marlboro. Students were invited to respond to a prompt drawn from Gandhi’s well-known admonition, “Be the change. Document the effect.” “With 108 entries from as far away as California and Cairo, and a lot of creativity and thought going into each one, it was a tough choice for our judges.”

Faza’s entry, titled “listening to Silence,” involved creating an integrated python-based digital system for communicating with his grandfather and other people suffering from hearing loss. Despite some technical difficulties, Faza was able to develop the project he calls “Mama of Silicon” from conception to prototype, which he successfully tested in trials with his grandfather.

Second place went to Talia Abrams of Princeville, Hawaii, who developed a nonprofit organization called Kauai Edible Parks and proposed a bill in the state legislature to introduce public spaces where food grows to benefit the local community. Third place went to Niza Mungabo of Lufaka, Zambia, who joined a local effort to empower underprivileged students in their community and supplement the underfunded public education system.

“I, for one, have refused to allow the size of my effort to determine whether or not I will act against an injustice; but rather I look to see what I can do to help a cause within my means,” said Niza.

These top three winners are eligible for a full or partial scholarship to Marlboro College. In addition, they and 22 other finalists were awarded expense-paid trips to the Beautiful Minds Symposium, from March 29 to 31, 2017, where they will share their projects and experience Marlboro College firsthand.