'Once You Get It, Give It Back': Georgia Teen Pays Tribute to Mom With Winning Google Doodle

Illustration: Arantza Peña Popo (Google)

If you found yourself clicking with curiosity on Tuesday morning’s “Google Doodle” simply because you couldn’t immediately identify the brown-skinned people in the illustration, you were in luck; today’s Google Doodle is the winner of the 11th annual “Doodle for Google” competition.

Offered to students across America in different age groups, this year’s competition theme was “When I grow up, I hope…” On Monday night’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, 18-year-old Arantza Peña Popo from Lithonia, Ga., was introduced as the 2019 national winner for her doodle, titled “Once you get it, give it back”—and I’ll give you a chance to grab a tissue before we continue.

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Popo’s illustration depicts a woman and her mother standing beneath a portrait of a mother and child, mirroring the image above. As Popo explained on Monday night, it’s a tribute to her own mother’s dedication in caring for her, and her intention to do the same, in return.

“At first, I initially wanted [to do] you know, like an invention or a career, but I wanted to make it more personal to me, so I decided to make it about my mother,” Popo explained to Fallon, as her mother Maria—who Popo told Google “lights up any room she is in”—proudly beamed from the studio audience. “She’s made so many sacrifices for me, so I kinda wanted to show me paying it back in the future,” Popo added.

And I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Interestingly enough, while the portrait depicted in the illustration represents Popo and her mother, Newsweek reports that it’s based on a photo of Popo’s mother and sister that hangs in their family room.

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“I think it was just a chance to thank her for all she’d done,” Popo told Google about her inspiration, which came after suffering months of what she called “massive art block” during her senior year of high school, Newsweek reports. “Sometimes I think of the cost of raising a child all the way to adulthood and since I know I can’t instantly pay my mom back hundreds of thousands of dollars, I can [at] least pay her back in a sincere doodle,” she added.

A recent graduate of Arabia Mountain High School, Popo was one of two valedictorians in her graduating class. Her Google Doodle won her a $50,000 technology package for her alma mater as well as a $30,000 scholarship to assist in her studies when she enrolls at the University of Southern California in the fall, where she plans to study graphic design with the eventual hope of producing graphic novels and comics. Popo will also be granted a trip to Google’s headquarters in California.

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Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.