While many high school juniors are beginning to search for the perfect college, Dea Kurti is also searching for the perfect book.
"Books about astronauts or animals or how to code, we also like books about inspiring girls," said Kurti.
The sixteen year old who attends Brooklyn Technical High School, founded a nonprofit organization called Novel Girls two years ago. An idea rooted in the poor education she says she received as a child growing up in Albania.
"I didn't learn anything basically in those years and so when I got to kindergarten I couldn't speak English. I didn't know math, I didn’t even know what numbers were," said Kurti.
The organization sends books about female empowerment, math and science to girls in third world countries. An effort that Kurti hopes will begin a new chapter for those who lack access to a quality education.
"I get a lot of emails for little girls saying like thank you, this is so interesting to me, I want to become an engineer and things like that because it is so exciting, it’s like whoa I actually did something. Like I help someone stay motivated or become motivated to do something," said Kurti.
Since the organization launched in 2016, the group has collected and sent more than $300,000 worth of books overseas. Boxes are sent to libraries, women's shelters and girls schools in places like Albania, India, and Malaysia.
And how does she fill these boxes…through book drives. Twice a year, Brooklyn Tech provides a location for students to drop off books for Kurti and her team. More than ten schools around the country have joined the cause, holding their own book drives for Novel Girls.
"I am doing it, but all these other people are doing it and so like all of us getting involved its makes us proud of the new generation," said Kurti.
Kurti plans to continue this work through college and eventually turn it into a career all while reminding her peers never to take their education for granted.
"I have taken classes from like computer science to Chinese, to geography. So many different interesting types of classes that so many little girls aren't able to take, you know they don't have those opportunities, but I do. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to have that so why not use that to help other people," said Kurti.
Helping girls around the world turn the page to a new future.