The Afro-Latina winner of the Google Doodle contest talks to People CHICA about how her family inspired her prizeworthy artwork.

By Lena Hansen
August 13, 2019

Google Doodle winner Arantza Peña Popo, whose art can be seen today all over the internet, is Colombian and Afro-Latina.The 18-year-old talked to People CHICA about this amazing achievement. Her work was chosen from over 200,000 submissions. “I'm proud and excited that millions of people can see my art,” she says. “I really didn't think it would win because I made my drawing at the last minute and I submitted the last day. I'm surprised but very happy.”

The doodle (above) — titled “Once you get it, give it back” — was inspired by an old family photo of her mother holding her baby sister. According to Arantza, the photo (below) is a symbol of her mother's love and the sacrifices she made for her daughters. “My feelings for my mom are indescribable. I love her so much and she is very proud of me,” she says.

Arantza, who lives in Georgia, graduated Arabia Mountain High School as valedictorian and plans to study at University of Southern California this fall. As the winner of Google's competition, she will receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology package for her school. “I want to explore different careers in college, I haven't decided what I'm going to study yet. Obviously art and design interest me,” she adds. “It's very important that I don't have to worry about how to pay for my university anymore and I can just focus on my studies.”

She is definitely inspiring others with her story and has a very clear definition of success. “I think the American dream is different for every person. For me, I just want to work in what I feel passionate about.” Arantza — who visited TODAY this morning — has some words of wisdom for other aspiring artists and fierce Latinx chicas. “My only advice is not to let obstacles and failures along the way bring you down. I wasn't accepted by an art school and I was really disappointed, but now look at me, talking about my art on television!”