Chapel Hill High School Student Promotes Access to Education Locally and Globally

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After a trip to India in elementary school, Aarya Potti returned home with a vision to help others complete their education

Aarya Potti creates Project Asha to help girls complete their education

By Anna Beth Adcock | Photo by John Michael Simpson

After a trip to India in elementary school to visit her grandparents, Aarya Potti returned home with a vision. “Seeing the disparities in education [in India] was a lot to handle, especially seeing how I was growing up so differently than girls my age who were unable get an education,” Aarya says.

During her sophomore year at Chapel Hill High School, Aarya realized she could take action to help young girls go to school. Soon after, Project Asha was born. Translating to “hope” in Hindi, Project Asha works to aid young girls in their efforts to complete their elementary, middle and high school education. Through campaigning, sharing brochures and distributing shirts, Aarya spreads her message to the community and asks for donations. So far, she has raised almost $10,000 to sponsor orphaned girls and help charities that give back to girls in India.

Aarya recently made a $1,000 donation to the Orange County Partnership for Young Children to give back to students on a local level. “I realized there were people close to home that needed help,” Aarya says. “After doing some research, the OCPYC seemed really great, so I went to visit. It was nice to see the money donated go toward things like buying new books for schools.”

The OCPYC serves as the administrator for Smart Start and NC Pre-K in the county and operates with a mission to ensure that every child arrives at school healthy and ready to succeed. Robin Pulver, OCPYC’s executive director, says Aarya’s contribution makes a big difference, and the support helps fund book purchases, playground equipment and many other projects.

“Donations like this impact the lives of young children and their families and support programs necessary to help children get ready for school,” Robin says. “It’s really exciting to see young leaders like Aarya care about the community and make a difference. We were thrilled when Aarya came to us.”

Now a senior, Aarya is applying to college and plans to study psychology or political science. Beyond her work with Project Asha, she plays volleyball and is active in student government. “I think community is a big deal and really important, especially in our area,” she says. “It’s important to be doing things to help those around you if you can – and being able to do so is a privilege.”

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