A student at Eastern Senior High School in Capitol Hill has been announced as the national winner of Google’s annual “Doodle 4 Google” contest. Akilah Johnson, whose illustration “Google in my Afrocentric Life” was chosen as a finalist last month, found out her entry won while attending a ceremony for contest finalists this morning at Google headquarters in California.
As part of the winning prize, Johnson’s illustration is being featured on the Google homepage on Monday. She will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 Google for Education grant for her school, and various Google products.
“I remember the day that Akilah brought the finished artwork to my office after scanning the image to submit online,” says Rachel Skerritt, Eastern’s principal. “Everyone who saw it was blown away by the beauty, detail, and powerful statement that her piece conveyed.”
In a description of her illustration on the contest site, Johnson writes, “my Afrocentric Google is drawn as a box braid, with my personal characteristics surrounding it. I based this picture off my lifestyle and what has made me into what I am today.”
Google has been holding the “Doodle 4 Google” contest since 2008, asking students across the country to submit entries that reflect different ideas and themes, while including the Google logo. With this year’s “what makes me…me?” theme, artists were asked to “shows the world what they’re passionate about, what gets them excited, or what they dream about,” according to the contest website.
This year’s contest judges included astronaut Dr. Yvonne Cagle, professional basketball player Stephen Curry, and actor and writer B.J. Novak, among other celebrities. After narrowing down the submissions to 53 finalists, one from each state along with D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico, voting was opened to the public. Johnson’s take on the District, which includes local and personal symbols, as well as a “Black Lives Matter” sign, clearly struck a chord with online voters.
“She is incredibly deserving of this honor, and Eastern is immensely grateful to Google for recognizing Akilah, her family, and her art teacher,” Skerritt says. “We also deeply appreciate Google’s future contribution of technology to our school community.”