Nasitta Keita is a first-year student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus who has quickly distinguished herself as someone actively working to make positive change on and off campus. During her first semester, she turned her experience in a service-learning political science class into an opportunity to help 4th and 5th graders in a low-income neighborhood learn about government and social issues and learn how to organize their ideas into suggested resolutions for our local city council. At the same time, Nasitta has become actively involved in inclusion and equity efforts on our campus, including working with a small group of other students to implement a "shadow day" in which prospective students of color spend a day with current students to become familiar with our campus and recognize the community that exists for them here. She has gone out of her way to make the most of her college experience as a stepping-stone toward understanding herself and identifying lasting mechanisms for social change.
Growing up in Madison, WI, I only attended schools that were predominately white. I decided to cope with being looked at as an 'other' by assimilating to a culture that wasn't mine, and ignoring the injustices I was facing because of my racial status. My junior year of high school I was chosen to attend the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN). While I was there, I had the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of people and discuss the achievement gaps in our states. I was always told to fight for what breaks my heart, and after MSAN I realized that I needed to make my contribution to fighting the ongoing battle for social change. At UWMadison, I've continued my social justice work by joining the Equity and Inclusion committee, and interning with a local Alder. The committee focuses on drafting action plans to make the climate on campus better for underrepresented groups. My work with an Alder gives elementary schoolers a voice in their futures. We've done this by teaching them about social issues through dialogue. Being civically engaged has changed my life, and I'm excited to see the changes to my community that'll happen because of it.