Iris Cheng

2023 - HOUSTON

Iris Cheng is a senior at Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas. After school districts across the nation began banning books featuring LGBTQ+ and BIPOC narratives, she spoke on national television to highlight the need for diverse representation. By directing the Katy Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Board, a community forum for crafting strategies to implement tangible change and necessary reform, she aims to amplify minority student voices in her district and nationwide. The board strives to advance racial equity and understanding by distributing identity-reaffirming resources, cultivating safe spaces, and engaging in race-related discourse. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Board operates a weekly publication, "Diversity Dialogues," to provide a platform for BIPOC students to share essays and artwork about navigating racial identities. Additionally, Iris founded the Literacy and Legislation Initiative, a non-profit organization aimed at combating disparities in education accessibility. Through L&L, Iris has donated over $10,000 in literature to under-resourced libraries that support large populations of racial minorities in the Houston area. L&L launched the C.I.V.I.C. (Combat Inaccessible Voting Information in Communities) Initiative as an effort to promote political literacy among racial minorities, which are traditionally politically underrepresented. Ultimately, Iris holds a firm belief that students are invaluable in shaping a future that promotes inclusivity and equity — on both institutional and individual levels.