As a writer, I have been privileged to meet so many interesting people and to share their stories with our readers. But one of my favorite things about this job has been witnessing the amazing talent, drive, and passion our local youth bring not only to our community but to our world. One such person is Rebecca Wu, a Bellevue International School student whose artwork was recently displayed on Google’s homepage after she won this year’s national Doodle for Google Competition (doodles.google.com). Her reward for beating out tens of thousands of other submissions was a $30,000 college scholarship, plus a $50,000 technology package for her school.
For those who don’t know, the Doodle for Google competition is open to students from Kindergarten through 12th grade and encourages them to enter their art for a chance to win a college scholarship and have their artwork displayed on the Google landing page for 24 hours. The theme of this year’s competition was, “I am grateful for…,” and the title of Rebecca’s artwork depicting her relationship with her two younger sisters was “My Sweetest Memories.” Having three sisters myself, I know what a blessing they are, but Rebecca’s explanation of what her sisters mean to her as depicted in her winning artwork is truly touching.
"We help to inspire each other and help each other grow like the vines and flowers in my picture. I am never lonely with them, and they can cheer me up. I am grateful for them and all that they have done for me. In this drawing, we are having a fun time drinking hot chocolate, which is one of my fondest memories. The rainbow in the background symbolizes one of the first things I helped one of my sisters draw. My drawing is composed of all our happiest memories to show just how grateful I am for them.”
I recently spoke with Rebecca via phone, as she was already off to a month-long educational summer camp in New Haven, CT, for another incredible experience. I wanted to know more about her passions and at what age she discovered her love of drawing. “I started drawing when I was around 2 years old, and the first thing I drew was a big circle on my wall,” she says. “I have since worked in all sorts of mediums, but don’t have a favorite. I created the artwork I did for the Google contest digitally on my iPad using Procreate®.”
She first started entering the Doodle for Google competition in 2018, but never in her wildest dreams expected to one day win. As she says, “Everyone at school congratulated me when they announced I had won at a school awards assembly. I felt so proud because it was a big competition with so many entries, and I never thought I would win the whole thing!” The Bellevue school district and her school provided strong support advocating and celebrating her achievement and called her one of their ‘Creators of our Future World’. But the excitement didn’t stop there. Soon after, The Today Show flew Rebecca and her family to New York City to do a live television interview, during which she held her own and appeared completely at ease. “We celebrated there as well,” she says. “That was my first time going to New York, and there were a lot of cool shops and things to see.”
Today Rebecca most enjoys drawing people, but also draws random objects to practice. She also loves helping her sisters—Esther (4 years old) and Anna (6 years old)—with their artwork when she has time and feels both have artistic talent as well. “My mom and her father enjoyed creating art when they were younger, too,” she shares.
When Rebecca isn’t working on her art, coding (another talent of hers), or studying for school, she enjoys playing the violin, which she took up around 7 years ago. “It is one of my hobbies and my sister, Anna, is just starting to learn as well,” she says. Speaking of her sisters, Rebecca admits it can sometimes be hard being the oldest. “My little sisters used to go into my room and touch all my stuff or just take it, but that doesn’t happen much anymore, luckily,” she says. “And sometimes they randomly copy what I say, which gets a little annoying. They think it is funny.”
Rebecca turns 13 this September, and although she still has much time to decide where she wants to use her college scholarship, she already has her sights set on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where her dad went. “We went there for a visit, and it was really cool,” she says. As for what she will major in, she is not yet sure. “I would love to do something with art because I really love it, but I may find something else I like as well,” she explains.
Clearly, 2023 has been an exciting year for Rebecca so far, and she credits her family for all the amazing things she has achieved. “My family is always supportive of the things I do, and they constantly find new things for me to explore so I can grow even more. I couldn’t do all the things I do without them,” she says.
Her parents, Qiang and Jiayuan, are her biggest champions and are big believers in supporting all girls in developing their passion and creativity to prepare them for future real-world impact. As her mom shared, “Qiang and I are professionals in the technology industry, and we firmly believe that art education emphasizing expressing one’s inner voice and creativity has long-term benefits in creating future changemakers and creators. Rebecca truly has a talent in her art and has scaffolded creativity in many ways.” It appears she is well on her way to making this world a better place.