JUST LAST month, Akilah Johnson was “surprised and overwhelmed” when she learned that she was a national finalist in the “Doodle 4 Google” contest for elementary through high school students.
Imagine how she feels now.
Akilah, a sophomore at Eastern Senior High School in Northeast Washington, has just been named Google’s big winner in the national contest, topping the 53 state and territory champions, whose work had been culled from about 100,000 student entries.
“It is really overwhelming,” Akilah tells The Post’s Comic Riffs, minutes after receiving the news Monday during a ceremony at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
“I was so excited, I started crying,” Akilah says. “I didn’t even look at anybody — I was just looking at the framed copy [of the Doodle] they gave me.”
Akilah is the contest’s first winner from Washington, as D.C. was not eligible to enter the states-only competition in past years. (The Post’s Comic Riffs had joined the chorus of voices urging that the District be included.)
This year’s contest theme was: “What makes me…me.” Akilah drew a box-braided Doodle, titled “My Afrocentric Life,” using color pencils, black crayons and Sharpie markers. The Doodle includes symbols of black heritage and signs representing the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Although it felt like forever making this picture, it only took me about two weeks,” Akilah told Comic Riffs last month.
Besides seeing her work spotlighted on Google’s home page, Akilah will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and her high school will be awarded a $50,000 Google for Education grant “towards the establishment and improvement of a computer lab or technology program.”