Wila Matos, a second year student at the University of Rhode Island, is a student servant leader active in addressing issues of inequality, equity, justice, and youth and community engagement. Ms. Matos inspires and engages youth in community conversations and action. She leads by example in organizing awareness and engagement programs for the campus and inspiring fellow peers to step up and become part of the solution. Ms. Matos takes advantage of networking and leadership opportunities that will increase her ability to reach vulnerable and disenfranchised populations of our communities in order for us to find sustainable solutions for our society's most pressing issues. She collaborates with her peers to lead and inspire us all to commit to simple acts of kindness and engagement that will create a more just and equitable society for all.
During my high school career, I worked with a non-profit organization called Youth in Action (YIA) which is a partnership between youth and adults to create change in their communities. This is where I felt the most empowered and really enjoyed the work I was doing in social action. I was constantly learning about social issues, systems of oppression, race and ethnicity, police brutality, and related it all back to how this affects black and brown people. I was on a team called Students Constructing Classrooms (SCC) and we would co-facilitate in Rhode Island College youth development classes and teach them about our experiences, what students from inner cities need from their teachers in order to be successful, and the importance pf student-centered learning. This spring break I will be going on an Alternative Spring Break Trip with a group of URI students to Atlanta, Georgia to focus on issues around poverty, homelessness and community revitalization. Currently, at The University of Rhode Island I am an intern for the Feinstein Civic Engagement Program where I am in charge of organizing volunteering opportunities on and off campus in fall 2017 for students who are interested in making change in their communities.