Ziad Ahmed was asked, “What matters to you, and why?” on his Stanford University application. Instead of listing a lengthy essay on various subjects, Ahmed repeated one simple hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter.

The Princeton Day School senior’s response wrote out the phrase exactly 100 times and the bold decision paid off. On Friday, Ahmed got a letter of admission to the post-secondary institution.

“I was actually stunned when I opened the update and saw that I was admitted,” Ahmed told Mic The Movement in an emailed statement. “I didn’t think I would get admitted to Stanford at all, but it’s quite refreshing to see that they view my unapologetic activism as an asset rather than a liability.”

Ziad Ahmed, Instagram


Ahmed practices the Islamic faith and says his beliefs and his commitment to justice are intertwined.

“To me, to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can’t imagine it being any other way for me,” Ahmed said. “Furthermore, it’s critical to realize that one-fourth to one-third of the Muslim community in America are Black … and to separate justice for Muslims from justices for the Black community is to erase the realities of the plurality of our community.”

As the founder and president of Redefy, an international teen-led organization that seeks to collaboratively defy stereotypes, Ahmed is fiercely committed to his community.

“As an ally of the Black community though, it is my duty to speak up in regards to the injustice, and while this was not a form of ‘activism‘ as it was simply an answer in a college application,” he said. “I wanted to make a statement.”

Congrats to the young leader for standing up for what—and who—he believes in.