Kemi Tela


Kemi Tela is a senior at Father Ryan High School in Nashville, Tennessee. Kemi holds leadership roles in multiple clubs including the Multi-Cultural Student Union (MCSU). The MCSU seeks to foster a culture of inclusion and diversity at Father Ryan through speakers, discussion of current events, cultural celebrations, activism, and off-campus enrichment. As one of the club leaders, Kemi is responsible for suggesting speakers, leading club discussions, and planning club events, all of which has increased club membership by 81%. Thanks to the MCSU's warm and passionate community, Kemi came to a better understanding of the importance of championing marginalized communities and the club provided her with the vital support to rediscover her voice in an advocacy context. After experiencing a discriminatory encounter, Kemi felt empowered to pursue her ongoing advocacy project through the MCSU, which amplifies minority students' voices, via a collection of anonymous written testimonials regarding experiences of microaggressions on campus. In leading the microaggressions project, Kemi focused heavily on student outreach work, encouraging her peers to share their experiences of discrimination at school. The project has stimulated meaningful dialogue between the faculty and students with the eventual hope of combating ignorance through education and respectful discussion. The microaggressions project has also provided informative insight on the experiences of minority students in club meetings. The anonymous testimonials were presented to faculty at the school's DEI committee meeting to encourage dialogue regarding diversity in the school's campus culture. The testimonials are being artistically rendered into graphic designs, with the intent to further the conversation and include the entire Father Ryan community in the discussion of discrimination at school.