Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
high school: Julia B. Masterman
college: University of Pennsylvania
Gomian Naomi Konneh makes valiant and well−considered efforts in order to ensure the equal treatment of those seen as being inferior in today’s society. Gomian was first exposed to social injustice at a young age − hearing heroic tales of her grandparents marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, protesting alongside Louis Farrakhan at the Million−Man March, demonstrating alongside Cecil B. Moore at the desegregation of Girard College, and participating in a plethora of noteworthy events in the fight for civil rights for all citizens of the United States. It was this fundamental ethic of care that inspired her to take actions to ameliorate conditions within her Philadelphian community.
Gomian is the second daughter to parents Cynthia Small and Mohamed Konneh − her mother hailing from Philadelphia and her father from Liberia. With dreams of strengthening her speech−giving and leadership abilities, she participated and placed first in the many “Speech Meet” competitions organized by her small elementary school. Gomian won her school’s Oratorical Speech-Writing Contest and delivered a speech to the entire institution. She subsequently attended Julia R. Masterman Middle and High School in Philadelphia − where she honed her craft for speech-writing and in turn used that craft to promote social change. In ninth grade, Gomian was selected to deliver Masterman High School’s Blue Ribbon Speech − a speech congratulating the school on its newly−attained Blue Ribbon status − and used the time to discuss student morale and the importance of collective perseverance.
As the Associate Concertmaster of the Temple University’s Community Music Scholar Program String Ensemble, a violinist in the All−Philadelphia Orchestra, and a first violinist in her high school’s orchestra, Gomian became aware of the struggle to preserve arts education in public schools. She then got involved in the fight, delivering speeches at rallies in front of Philadelphia’s City Hall − holding Pennsylvania legislators accountable for the budget deficit; however, that was only the beginning of a long, harrowing battle. In order to alleviate the School District of Philadelphia’s “Doomsday Budget Crisis,” Pennsylvania lawmakers proposed a plan which cut teachers, arts education, counselors, libraries, accelerated learning, nurses, and countless other amenities from the district’s budget. Dozens of schools were closed, displacing thousands of kids. To help give students a voice amid the chaos, Gomian led a walkout in which over 5,000 students of Philadelphia’s public and charter schools walked out of their classes and marched through the streets in order to express their discontent to the citizens of Philadelphia. Gomian continues to speak at events encouraging the community to get involved in education reform in the city of Philadelphia.
Gomian’s honors include National Merit Outstanding Participant, the French National Honor Society, Masterman High School Poetry Out Loud Champion, National History Day Philadelphia Citywide First Place Champion, and National History Day Pennsylvania Statewide Third Place Champion. She participates in numerous activities, such as serving as a Track and Field Team Manager, a Philadelphia Student Union Activist, a buildOn community service leader, an African American Cultural Committee member, a student of the Thomas Jefferson University’s Medical School “Future Docs” program, a World Affairs Club member, a Student Government delegate, and many more.
Gomian will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2014 as a Biological Basis of Behavior (BBB) major. She wishes to become an Ophthalmologist in the future.