Tatiana Laing, American University

Tatiana LaingTatiana Laing is a dynamic student leader in the American University campus community on issues of race, prison justice and income inequality. Tatiana motivated her peers to act against an unfair justice system. Tatiana led in organizing a series of events which included a Town Hall Meeting for the student body; a photo exhibit; a “March for Justice” that drew hundreds of participants and an all-day “Teach In for Justice” that engaged over 300 students, staff and faculty in learning more about the U.S. criminal justice system, race and White privilege. At the Brennan Center for Justice, Tatiana contributed to research on the incarceration, reentry and recidivism of women prisoners and represented the organization on Capitol Hill. At American University, Tatiana is both conscience and catalyst for multiple acts of solidarity designed to make this community a more just and livable place.  
-Cornellius Kerwin, President

As a teenager I devoted myself to serving. In my sophomore year of high school. I was able to put together a food drive that donated 1000 pounds of food to my local food bank. Since getting in to American University, I’ve participated in community service regularly through the Center for Community Engagement & Service. But I believe that my greatest contribution to my community is my activism.
In my career I aspire to change the way that African Americans are perceived in American society, but more specifically in our Criminal Justice System. I believe that many issues in the criminal justice system stem from negative perceptions of black people by our society and therefore our police force, prosecutors, and judges. I have worked with several criminal justice reform organizations as an intern or volunteer. This spring I am also leading an Alternative Break on the subject.
In the last year I have become active on my campus against police brutality as well. I believe that getting over 250 students to stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and with the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner is my greatest achievement thus far in college.
-Tatiana Laing