Our thanks to South High senior Rayna for sharing this story at our October 10 Evening of Excellence celebration.
Thank you so much for the invitation – I’m so glad to be here.
I’ve always been passionate about social justice and civil rights. I’m a proud feminist and it is important for me to fight for rights for everybody, specifically marginalized groups. My passion for activism has led me to work with Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and to start a feminist club in middle school.
Through AchieveMpls, I have connected my passions to what I want to do for college and careers. I frequently spend time in the Career & College Center with the two AchieveMpls coordinators, Kelsey and Katie. The Center has been an amazing resource for me as I research colleges and write applications and essays. They are great guides when I’m looking for college programs that match my interests, scholarships that can help me cover the costs, and opportunities for other things like college tours.
Often, I find them reassuring me about college applications and college as a whole. A few weeks ago, I was working on an application and found myself writing about Assata Shakur, a leader of the Black Liberation Movement. I was worried that colleges would see me for the radical activist I aspire to be, and wouldn’t like how frequently I discuss race in my application. I shared my concern with Kelsey and Katie, and they told me that if a college doesn’t like that part of my application, then it probably isn’t the right place for me. Moments like that have been so impactful on my college journey.
I’ve also been a Step-Up intern for two summers. During my first internship, I worked at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted to do for my career – but I still learned a lot that summer about being in a work setting.
This past summer was completely different. I interned at Educators for Excellence, an education advocacy organization. I had an amazing supervisor, Maggie Brueken, who made it possible for me to explore my passion around how the education system perpetuates institutionalized racism. My internship projects focused on racial discipline disparities, the school to prison pipeline, and school resource officers. Ultimately, Maggie helped me publish an article in MinnPost about why students need a diverse teaching force. That was an amazing experience! Next summer I hope to do another Step Up internship there and pick up where I left off.
Next fall year I am excited to go off to college, hopefully on one of the coasts. I want to study political science or journalism, and hopefully gender studies or African American studies, too. I also want to further my activism and learn how to become a stronger organizer.
I’m not exactly sure where my career path will take me, but at this point in my life, I’m interested in possibly becoming a journalist, a civil rights attorney, or a community organizer. The Career & College Center and Step Up have really helped me think about what I want to do with my future.
Thank you so much for inviting me to speak tonight, and for supporting students like me.