Hometown: West Orange, NJ
high school: Kent Place School
college: University of Chicago
MAJOR: Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies
Shayla Harris is a leader from North New Jersey whose passion for learning and community serve as guiding principles. She has attended a prestigious all-girls school, Kent Place, since the 3rd grade where her intellectual curiosity has flourished. Shayla believes that challenge is key to personal growth, inspiring her to take several Advancement Placement classes. She received the distinction of AP Scholar with Honor in addition to being inducted into The French National Honor Society and being named a National Achievement Outstanding Participant. While Shayla’s numerous academic achievements are a great source of pride, the contributions she has made in her communities are equally important.
Though Shayla is grateful for the privileges she receives from her school community, she remains connected to and aware of the issues that face those less fortunate than herself. Therefore, it is her mission to combat social injustice and inequality through activism and volunteer work. As one of few minority students in her 3rd grade class, she recognized at a young age that her school’s homogenous demographic lacked perspective. She did not feel ostracized by her socioeconomic and racial differences; instead, she was inspired to make a change. As a senior, Shayla is the President of Kent Place’s Diversity Council and Vice President of Black Cultural Association. She strives to create an open and welcoming environment, while facilitating difficult discussions through weekly meetings and assemblies that teach her peers how to use their privilege to aid oppressed individuals and groups.
Shayla not only uses her voice to make a difference, she also evokes change by lending a helping hand in local communities. As a sophomore, she was selected to be Kent Place’s representative in the NJ Food Bank’s Teen Council and has been dedicated to the organization ever since, collecting, sorting and distributing food and other necessities. Shayla not only provides resources to the impoverished, she is also able to amplify their voice and raise awareness through an annual conference and service supported by Bridges Outreach, an organization that aids the homeless.
Shayla credits much of her success and ability to make a difference to her education, hard work and belief that everyone should have equal access. She shares this passion for learning through her involvement with a local organization, Little Angels Literacy Program. She tutors children with learning disabilities and teaches enrichment classes for students who are not being challenged in the classroom. Working with these children makes Shayla all the more grateful for her education and for initiatives like the Ron Brown Scholar Program. Shayla plans to major in Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies, and would love to work with the Ron Brown Scholar Program’s network so she can uplift even more lives.