Posted on June 1, 2019 at 3:04 am

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Desi Activist Riya Kataria empowers others through advocacy

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Riya Kataria, a Bay-Area based activist, is revolutionizing society through her nonprofit, The PFA Institute

Through her work, she is building a powerful community of young changemakers who are ready to tackle various issues occurring in social and political atmospheres. They are working together to learn how they can spark meaningful change in their communities.

Kataria’s work may seem unconventional in the Indian community, but her elders are slowly embracing this change. On December 14, 2018 she interviewed Former First Lady Michelle Obama at one of her “Becoming” tour stops in San Jose, California. Not only did this magnify her work as an activist but also made her parents proud. It was truly a special moment in her storytelling and awareness initiatives as a leader.

Ever since she was a little girl, she knew it was up to the youth to start a revolution.

“I learned the word revolution at the age of five and ever since then, I’ve wanted to leave my mark on the world,” said Kataria.

Now, as a part of the Generation Z activist revolution, Kataria helps foster a culture where people are not afraid to express themselves. Through various Instagram posts, she delivers authentic perspectives and inspiring messages. For instance, she posted a picture to spread awareness of her mental health journey. She sheds light on issues that may be rather unconventional to discuss in her South Asian culture.

At a young age, she may have felt ashamed or embarrassed to showcase her Desi identity. But now, she feels empowered to come from such a culturally diverse Indian background.

“My parents are from North India, in a place that intersects culture from Rajasthan, Delhi, and Haryana. I’ve tried to embrace my identity, but truthfully, when I was younger, it was difficult. I have come to appreciate it now. Indians have this sort of grit and stubbornness that I haven’t really seen anywhere else. We may be brash and loud, but we are also artistic and ambitious.” – Kataria

Kataria’s artistic and ambitious nature is depicted through her various endeavors. As a high school junior, she has attended the International Congress of Youth Voices, co-founded a nonprofit to civically engage and mentor the next generation of trailblazers, and joined the National Women’s March Youth Cohort. Furthermore, she engages in multiple state and national speech competitions, pursuing the event of original oratory. This summer, she will be interning in Cambridge, MA with a political science internship at Harvard University and a behavior science internship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After her high school graduation, Kataria hopes to attend the University of Chicago. Her future plans entail a double major in Political Science and Behavioral Science. Ultimately, she wishes to be the youngest senator in California at the age of twenty-six.


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