ABC7 Top Scholar: Tatiana Grossman

June 21, 2013 8:37:50 PM PDT
Every year, ABC7 chooses seven Bay Area high school seniors as our Top Scholars. Each one gets a $1000 scholarship. The honor is based on exceptional achievements in academics and extracurricular activities.

Top Scholar Tatiana Grossman lives in Palo Alto and goes to Henry M. Gunn High School. This fall, she will be studying computer science at Stanford University.

Tatiana was voted one of the most inspiring students in her senior class and it's easy to see why. She's a principal oboist with the Peninsula Youth Orchestra, a top math and science student -- chosen to study in an intensive summer program at M.I.T., and an accomplished philanthropist sharing her love of reading.

Tatiana says, "Ever since I was little, I was surrounded with books." When she was 12, she learned that three out of four children in Sub-Saharan Africa don't know how to read, simply because they don't have books. Tatiana was stunned and wanted to help.

"I set up a book drive in front of my local children's library asking people for books and money to ship the books there and by the end of the week, I ended up collecting 3,500 books, which is enough for three libraries there," she said.

That dramatic success made Tatiana realize she could do a lot more. She launched her own non-profit called "Spread the Words." She showed ABC7 stacks and stacks of books at her home.

"I have around 4,000 books here just piled and stacked on the floor, and these are actually going to be boxed very soon, this weekend actually (by) 30 volunteers in one afternoon," she said.

And that's just the latest shipment. Tatiana's group has already created 20 libraries in Africa serving more than 22,000 people. The group has collected money and donations worth more than $100,000.

Gunn High School Principal Katya Villalobos says, "I really admire the fact that she saw this need as a young person and thought of this idea and more importantly she took action and she executed."

Tatiana also showed ABC7 a digital projector system she created. She figured out how to run the projector with solar power to help teachers in remote areas with limited electricity. It holds 100,000 pages of lessons that can be projected on a screen, so all the children in the classroom can see it at once.

Tatiana is headed for Stanford next, but she's also looking ahead to a life of service. "One of the things that has really stuck with me throughout all my years is the saying that the purpose of life is a life of purpose. I just really feel that if I'm not busy doing something that I love or something that helps other people, that I'm not living quite as much as I could be."

Congratulations Tatiana Grossman, ABC7 Top Scholar!

Join ABC7 on Sunday, June 30, at 3 p.m. for a special on all seven of this year's Top Scholars.


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