WASHINGTON - Akilah Johnson, a 10th grader at Eastern High School in Northeast Washington, is Google's top student doodler.
Johnson's doodle, which honors her African-American heritage, is featured prominently on the Internet giant's home page on Monday. It was selected from 100,000 submissions to the "Doodle 4 Google" competition for young artists.
This year, Google asked students from kindergarten to 12th grade to doodle "What makes me...me."
Drawn as a box braid, Johnson's doodle, entitled "My Afrocentric Life," was brought to life with color pencils, black crayons and Sharpie markers.
Among those featured in the doodle are Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Angela Davis, Colin Powell and Bill Cosby.
According to Google, Johnson was picked out of 100,000 participants from 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and D.C. Five national finalists were invited to spend the day at Google Headquarters in California for the award ceremony. They had a day of workshops with the doodle team and guest judges such as astronaut Yvonne Cagle and animator Glenn Keane.
Johnson will receive a $30,000 college scholarship and her school, Eastern Senior High School, will be awarded a $50,000 education-technology grant.
“Looking at this painting and looking at this head itself does something to me,” said Tikecia Johnson, Akilah's mother. “This is worth millions to me.”
“I have a lot of pride for Akilah,” she said. “I'm very excited because it shows me that she paid attention to her history. Actually, she knows more than I do.”
She said her daughter worked tirelessly on her project over Thanksgiving break after an assignment was given from her art teacher.