Riya Kataria, from Fremont, CA, learned to read at the age of 2, and began reading books such as Harry Potter by the age of 3. Now 17, Riya embraces her love for words through her advocacy and leadership. She is the founder and CEO of Picket Fence Academy, a nonprofit focused on bringing public speaking and advocacy education to all youth, no matter their background. A junior at Irvington High School, Riya is the president of the Irvington Speech team and the Political Student Action Committee as well as a delegate for the International Congress of Youth Voices, a gathering of the world’s 100 most profound student speakers, writers, and activists. Most recently, she was honored as a student activist by interviewing Michelle Obama for her “Becoming” book tour. Riya believes that words are the most powerful tool that we have, as they have the capability to incite terror or to emphasize tolerance. Riya urges the people around her to follow the latter since a world without acceptance is a world without evolution. Riya hopes to pursue a degree in political science at the University of Chicago.