How do you elevate your voice? When it comes to Central High School, and particularly their Student Advocacy Committee, knows how to make it happen! February 2, 200 students from Central High School participated in the annual Lift Every Voice Summit hosted by Southern New Hampshire University. The purpose of this initiative is to, “provide an environment for students to feel empowered, encouraged to become more involved, and uplifted to use their voices.”
The Student Advocacy Committee was able to accomplish this effort through starting the day with a leadership panel that included 4 individuals with diverse backgrounds. Topics discussed during the panel included each panelist’s story, what hardships were faced as a teenager, activities that kept them on the right track, and advice for youth to be leaders. Read here for the bios provided for each panelist that provides a glimpse into their story and their impact on their communities:
- Jason Bonilla: Jason comes from parents that traveled by foot from El Salvador, seeking a better life in the US. He moved to New Hampshire in 2017 to work for City Year. Jason’s passion for uplifting our youth motivated his many years of service with AmeriCorps/CityYear. Jason describes the pursuit of racial equity as being a big part of who he is – it was what fueled him in applying to the Equity Leader Fellowship (ELF), co-founding the NH Millennials of Color, seek a position on the Manchester School District’s Board of School Committee in 2022, and recently joined the Center for Justice & Equity Board.
- Kadyja Mower: Kadyja has previous lived experience of homelessness as an adolescent and an adult. Kadyja pursued and obtained three higher education degrees, two of which, while actively homeless, being an Associates in Addiction Studies, a bachelor’s in human services, and a master’s in criminal justice. Kadyja’s most recent role, she was the co-director for an organization that advocates for homeless youth in the state of NH. She currently holds a seat on the Governor’s Council for Housing Stability and does some work with the NH Coalition to End Homelessness as an Alumni of the Granite Leaders Program and Volunteer NH for their JEDI committee.
- Jordan Misiri: Jordan graduated from Concord High School and after attending USC Aiken in South Carolina from 2014-2019 he majored in Exercise & Sports Science. He Played soccer at USCA and was Selected as freshman of the year, Multiple times All conference team and Selected on all-region team. In 2019-2020 Jordan played professional soccer in the Caribbean and in 2020 to 2021 he played professional soccer in Portugal.
- Kayshauna Montano: Makin’ It Happen’s very own Community Impact Communications Manager and a recent NFL Cheerleader for the New England Patriots, and a full-time student pursuing her second master’s from Brown University. Kayshauna was adopted into an interracial family at the age of 3 and has spent her adult life devoted to encouraging others to embrace their unique qualities as their tools for success, while advocating for substance use prevention and mental health awareness within the communities she has lived in.
*Please note, all bios are a direct quote from the Lift Every Voice Summit and as the panelist’s each described themselves*
The day continued with workshops to build leadership in the student’ lives and communities, a pep rally, and a keynote speech from Anthony Payton. Anthony is a media entrepreneur and recent speaker of a Tedx Talk who is a part of various New Hampshire advisory boards and community groups. Makin’ It Happen is a proud sponsor of this event and we were thrilled to be a witness to the inspiring stories and students’ commitment towards growth and success! We extend a special thank you to Catherine Kabala and The Student Advocacy Committee for including us in this event! We look forward to next year and more opportunities to support our youth in the future!