Local student honored with Princeton Prize in Race Relations for Leadership in Youth-Driven Anti-Racism Initiative

Kemi Ojikutu, a junior at Wilson High School and member of the Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading (YVC), has been recognized with the prestigious Princeton Prize in Race Relations for her outstanding dedication to advancing racial equity and understanding in her community through her leadership in the YVC Stand Together Against Racism (STAR) initiative.

Founded in 2003, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations acknowledges high school students around the nation who, through their volunteer endeavors, have undertaken significant efforts to promote racial equity and foster understanding in their schools or communities. Kemi’s exemplary commitment to combating racism and injustice has earned her this esteemed recognition.

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For the past two years, Kemi has been actively involved in Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading, dedicating over 300 hours of service to the community, primarily through the YVC STAR initiative. As one of the initiative’s strongest student leaders, Kemi co-leads a weekly STAR discussion club at her high school, aiming to educate her peers about racism and its impacts.

In addition to her efforts at Wilson, Kemi serves as a county-wide STAR Student Ambassador, actively supporting the establishment of STAR clubs in other local high schools and contributing to leading county-wide STAR projects. These projects include organizing monthly student-led film discussions on racial topics, cultural heritage awareness events, and educational workshops.

Kemi’s impactful contributions extend beyond Berks County, as she has taken the initiative to establish a collaborative relationship with an anti-racism student club at an international school in South Korea. Through this collaboration, STAR will be launching several global youth-driven anti-racism projects this spring to spread its message of acceptance worldwide.

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Christi Terefenko, Executive Director of VOiCEup Berks and Adult Advisor to the STAR initiative, commented on Kemi’s leadership, saying, “Kemi is an extraordinary force within the STAR initiative. Her dedication, passion, and innovative approach to addressing racism inspire everyone around her. She embodies the spirit of leadership and activism, and her impact resonates far beyond her community.”

Established in 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd, STAR has evolved into a dynamic youth-driven initiative, engaging hundreds of individuals in numerous anti-racism projects annually. The initiative aims to address racism and injustice through education and dialogue that is initiated, supported, and facilitated by youth.

Kemi’s leadership and dedication exemplify the spirit of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, and her efforts have positively impacted countless individuals in her community and beyond. As a Prize recipient, Kemi will participate in a Symposium on Race held in April on the Princeton University campus where she will have the opportunity to meet and learn from other Prize recipients from across the country and to speak with others in engaged in racial justice work.

VOiCEup Berks is a dynamic organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Berks County, PA. They inspire and engage people in making a positive difference in their communities. Through programs like the Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading, VOiCEup Berks is fostering a spirit of volunteerism and community service among young people.

For more information about Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading STAR initiative, contact info@voiceupberks.org or visit yvc-star.org.

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Berks Weekly
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