Lawrence North Senior Uses Viral TikTok Account to Create Scholarship Fund
Photographer / Robby Berry
School doesn’t necessarily come easily to 17-year-old Mirajur Rahman, but a strong work ethic does. Rahman grew up in Bangladesh and immigrated to the United States in 2010 with his parents. His dedication to education includes taking detailed notes in classes and from online sources. Rahman realized some of his friends and classmates struggled with their advanced-placement classes.
“A lot of us were struggling with self-studying during remote learning,” Rahman says. “I was looking for resources for myself but wanted to share what I found with others.”
The Lawrence North High School senior took to social media to share his study tips with the masses. He realized if students at his school were struggling, others might be as well. He utilized the popular social networking service TikTok to share what he’d accumulated.
“I had made some other TikTok videos in regards to the COVID vaccine,” Rahman says. “It was very early on and a lot of people my age were scared about the vaccine. I just started trying to put out positive content. Then I decided if I had that platform, I might as well use it to share study tips as well.”
The videos proved to be an overnight success. Rahman quickly amassed more than 150,000 followers with around 3,400,000 likes on TikTok. Rahman was surprised by his sudden social media status but didn’t let it go to his head.
“I saw one of my friends working on her college application,” Rahman says. “I saw her break down and start crying because she didn’t know how she was going to pay for school. It just broke my heart. My parents have always had a mindset of giving back, and I do too.”
Rahman took the money he’d made from various TikTok endorsement deals with educational companies to create scholarships for students in need, rather than keep the money for himself. Through the website bold.org, Rahman produced his first scholarship, the Mirajur Rahman Self Expression Scholarship.
“I felt like it was important for students to express themselves artistically, especially after this past year,” Rahman says. “I requested applicants submit a link to their best work. That could include illustrations, photos, short videos, sculptures, music or other creative pieces. Then I awarded one winner $500.”
The subsequent scholarship Rahman funded was the Mirajur Rahman Perseverance Scholarship. Students provided essays detailing how they persevered through hardships toward a brighter future for themselves and the world.
“Reading some of these essays really opened my mind to other perspectives I had never considered,” Rahman says. “It showed me how much other people go through. I know coming from Bangladesh I didn’t really have much, but reading these essays showed me we all have things to overcome.”
Rahman is currently in the process of selecting a winner for his third scholarship, Mirajur Rahman’s Satirical Experiential Essay Scholarship. Applicants wrote short essays about an experience they witnessed that made them worry for the future of humanity. They were asked to show their humorous and satirical side.
As creator of the content he shares, Rahman could keep the money he’s received for his own college tuition, but he credits his parents’ sacrifices for him as inspiration to create scholarships.
“They don’t really understand TikTok, but what they do know is that I’m using it to help people,” Rahman says. “I am a strong believer that if one has something to offer, it should be shared with the world. That’s why I wanted to help my peers with their educational endeavors.”
Rahman is currently waiting to hear back from several colleges regarding his own applications. He hasn’t made any decisions yet but has his heart set on Princeton as his first choice, and Johns Hopkins as his second choice. He believes both schools provide a genuinely broad-based liberal arts program that will allow him to take the humanities approach to further his studies in medical school.
“Unfortunately I don’t find out until late December or March for some of these schools,” Rahman says. “I know I want to study philosophy because I think it would allow me to answer some of the questions I’ve never been able to answer before.”
Rahman isn’t done with creating and funding scholarships though. He plans to continue to help other students even while in college and beyond. The big goal is to give away a full year of tuition eventually. Until then, he’ll keep giving away small scholarships to deserving students.
To learn more, follow Rahman on TikTok at tiktok.com/@mirajur1.