Things That Matter

This Week’s Google Doodle Is About One Teen’s Appreciation For Her Colombian Mother’s Sacrifices And I’m Sobbing

Even since 2008, search engine Google has dedicated a contest to aspiring young artists around the world. With a yearly theme, the company challenges these young people with the task of creating a specialized Google Doodle. This year’s theme was announced to be “When I grow up, I hope… ;” a hopeful look at the future of our society. Each year, thousands of entries are submitted and one is selected as a winner for each age group. Of those winners, only one is declared the overall winner of the Doodle for Google contest. 

This year’s winner is Georgia teen, Arantza Peña Popo.

Twitter / @scottbudman

Entitled “Once you get it, give it back,” the doodle depicts a representation of a real picture of Peña Popo and her mother when the artist was a baby. In front of this display is the artist and her mother imagined in the future when Peña Popo will repay her mother’s devotion and care for her in her old age. 

According to a press release from Google, Peña Popo describes her mother, who is from Colombia, as a person who lights up any room she’s in. Also, the teen hopes to one day be able to help her mother to travel around the world and do all the other things in life that she hopes to do.

Peña Popo’s win was announced Monday night by Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” where she appeared as a guest. Her doodle was picked as the winner out of over 200,000 entries.
“I wanted to make it more personal to me,” the teen artist said in her interview with Fallon. “So, I decided to make it about my mother. You know, she’s made so many sacrifices for me so I kind of wanted to show me paying it back in the future”

According to Peña Popo, she has been interested in art since she was three but was suffering from a major artist block while working on this piece. 

Twitter / @GoogleDoodle

“I came up with the idea at the last minute, actually the day of the deadline,” she shared. “I looked at the photograph of my mother [the real version that inspired the drawing] and thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I reverse it?’ I wanted to focus more on a message of helping out my awesome mother more than anything else.” 

This is just the start of Peña Popo’s promising art career. Last Spring, the Colombiana graduated valedictorian of Arabia Mountain High School. In the Fall, she plans to attend the University of Southern California and wants to publish alternative graphic novels and comics in the future.  

The win also comes with some amazing perks for the artistic teen. 

Twitter/ @FallonTonight

As an aspiring artist, Peña Popo will get some of the best exposure in the world. Google.com will display her winning doodle for the entire day and it will appear whenever the search engine is used. The teen artist will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship to help with her as she attends the University of Southern California. Finally, Peña Popo will go on a trip to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Reactions to Peña Popo’s beautiful illustration and the story behind it have been incredibly supportive.

Twitter / @leeshaheard

Most people can relate to the story of sacrifice and love told by Peña Popo’s Google Doodle. Basically, it makes us all think about our own mothers. No wonder her entry won; it tugs at all of our heartstrings. We can’t help but want to support this young artist. 

This tweet credits Peña Popo’s win to #BlackGirlMagic and we have to agree with this based on her undeniable excellence.

 Twitter /@destinyiyabo

We always love to see a woman of color succeed but we are especially proud of this Afro-Latina and her accomplishments. It just goes to show that brilliance and talent can’t be contained by bigotry, bias or colorism. We have to label this win with #AfroLatinaExcellence.

While Peña Popo was both the winner in her age group and the national champion of this year’s Doodle for Google, she wasn’t the only one to win

Google / Amadys López Velásquez

Natalia Pepe of Connecticut won the K-3 grade group with a doodle that honors the farmers of America. Amadys López Velásquez of Puerto Rico won the 4-5 grade group with a doodle that celebrates the power of imagination. Texas student Christelle Matildo won first place in the 6-7 grade group with an entry that hopes for a better tomorrow. New Jersey native Jeremy Henskens won the 8-9 grade group with a comic book-inspired doodle. 

Congrats to Peño Popo and all the other winners. We hope the real future is half as beautiful as the one they’ve doodled

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