Senior honored with Heroes Award

Ananya Murali, senior, won the Wisconsin Heroes award for her planning, organization and management of the anti-bullying camp, “Step-Up Against Bullying and Violence”, as well as being actively involved in the community.

“The Wisconsin Heroes award is given to a Wisconsin resident who shows a willingness and commitment to volunteer their efforts towards a cause to improve the state,” Murali said. “I felt really honored to win this award.”

Recognition is given to those receiving the award, as well as a visit from the First Lady of Wisconsin, Tonette Walker, who presents the award to recipients.

“It was really an honor to meet her,” Murali said. “I had never met her before, and she was really easy to talk to.”

Anyone can nominate a candidate, and the anonymous recommendation for Ananya proved itself as appropriate. The “Step-Up Against Bullying and Violence” camp for middle school girls that Murali created produced extremely successful results.

“This … camp that I organized [was] conducted last December. I was inspired to conduct this camp because bullying is a very large and growing problem in this country,” Murali said. “I learned that education is the most powerful key to solving problems, and wanted to educate those around me about what bullying really was and how we can stop it.”

Not only did Murali initiate the camp, but she proposed her idea at the International Youth Peace Conference and received $2,000 in grants. She thought of and created activities and projects that encouraged using strategies and skills to combat bullying and violence, and brought in guest speakers and D.A.R.E. officers to talk and educate the girls.

Those who participated in the camps feel that it was a beneficial experience.

“She’s an advocate for female rights and women’s rights,” said Akshaya Kannan, junior and participant of the camp. “She just wanted to help other girls, who were really susceptive for [being] bullied, and I was lucky to be a part of … them here.”

This isn’t the only award Murali has won for her involvement in women’s rights. Recently she was the winner of the regional Zonta International Young Women in Public Service Award, the “Inspire by Example-Youth Award,” and the Girl Scouts “Young Women of Distinction Award.”

However, Ananya is already looking forward to the future, and the new potential projects and awareness it will bring.

“The best thing for me about winning this award would have to be that more people now know about my camps. I am glad that others are recognizing bullying as an issue and hopefully getting this award will generate more funds so I can continue doing these camps around the state,” Murali said. “It’s important that people are aware that any small action can make a difference, and I’m hoping that … winning this award will inspire others to do similar things in their community.”

Members of the North Shore Rotary Club recognized Murali for her achievement and helped arrange and fund “Step-Up Against Bullying and Violence” in India as well.

“Bringing my project to a global level really helped me to understand that bullying isn’t only an issue here–it’s a universal issue,” Murali said. “After the camp, many students came up and thanked me for teaching them about the consequences of bullying and now were willing to stand up for themselves and others who were bullied.”

While Murali is involved with the global community, she is also involved in many clubs and teams at the high school.

“She’s an involved leader, especially in class. She leads discussions and helps other students understand the material,” said Troy Thibodeau, math teacher. “She’s the captain of chess club; she organizes the club and has expanded it to the grade school … She’s self-motivated, conscientious, always willing to help and she keeps an open mind.”

Along with being the captain of chess club, Murali is also the website manager for Ripples, a rep for student council, a member of Model UN and captain of science club’s Lake Sturgeon Bowl team. In her free time, Murali enjoys listening to music, reading, crocheting and spending time with her friends and family.

by Shimana Bose

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