In March, when she submitted her drawing to the Doodle for Google contest, 10-year-old Alithia Haven Ramirez was hopeful that her art would be recognized. Unfortunately, the young artist saw her life cut short in May at the devastating school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Alithia was one of the 21 victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. Now, Google is celebrating her life by featuring the fourth grader's submission to the 2022 contest.
Alithia's delightful drawing shows a girl sitting on a couch with her cat. Next to her are two balls of yarn; and on the wall, the word Google is creatively spelled out as different works of art. In her submission, Alithia wrote, “I want the world to see my art and show the world what I can do, I want people to be happy when they see my passion in art.”
Doodle for Google is an annual contest now in its 14th year. The competition asks students from kindergarten to high school to submit an artwork based on a specific theme. This year's theme was self-care, and the artworks were judged by a panel led by actress-singer Selena Gomez, mental health activist Elyse Fox, and 2021 teacher of the year Juliana Urtubey. Fifty-four national and territorial winners were selected and then Google users voted for five finalists. National finalists receive a $5,000 scholarship and the overall winner will be awarded a $30,000 scholarship. They'll also see their work featured on Google.com.
Though Alithia's drawing was not selected to advance to the finals, Google decided to pay homage to her on a special page. “In Alithia Ramirez's 2022 Doodle for Google submission, she described her desire to show the world her art and everything she can do, and we're committed to honoring those wishes and her legacy,” Google spokesperson Colette Garcia shared. “Her story and art profoundly touched us, and we wanted to honor her family's request to share her unique talents that were so tragically taken as a result of senseless violence.”
Alithia's family fondly recalls her love of art, with her father Ryan Ramirez remembering that she “always had a crayon in hand, just going to town.” When Ramirez met with President Biden in the aftermath of the shooting, the president promised that he'd hang one of Alithia's drawings in the White House.
Alithia's grandmother, Rosa Maria Ramirez, recalls her granddaughter preparing her drawing for the Doodle for Google contest. Not long after the shooting, she spoke with ABC News and talked about Alithia's sweet disposition: “She was a very talented little girl. She loved to draw. She was real sweet, never getting into trouble. She was drawing to be able to put her drawing in the Google. She was trying to win the Google [contest].”
While Doodle for Google selects its five finalists on July 28 and announces the winner next month, this act of respect for Alithia's contribution is a true highlight of the contest.