The New York Times has named a Paradise Valley teen as the winner of the 5th Annual Student Podcast Contest. Meredith Syms’ entry “All is Not Lost: Mina Bakhshi’s Escape from Afghanistan with Ascend Athletics” tells the story of a young Afghan girl forced to flee her homeland when Kabul fell last summer.
The climbing group Ascend Athletics is an international organization that helps empower young women through leadership training, and this gave Mina the opportunity to start a new life in the United States.
“I am truly grateful to The New York Times for this incredible honor and to Mina Bakhshi for letting me share how she bravely risked everything to escape life under Taliban rule. I am so happy more people will hear Mina’s story and how athletic programs like Ascend give girls the courage to achieve their dreams even in the face of life and death obstacles,” said Syms.
Meredith is a high school senior at Choate Rosemary Hall, and she is the sports editor of the school newspaper. She is also the creative mind behind the Sport Up Podcast, which is the podcast that won the award. In the podcast, she interviews female sport leaders.
Anne Doepner has been featured on the podcast, in addition to other women executives, coaches, and players.
Meredith was one of 1,664 students who submitted 5-minute podcasts, a record number of entries. Entries were judged by a panel of New York Times editors, representatives of The Learning Network, and educators.