At our 14th Annual Luncheon, Miaya spoke on the importance the Independent School Alliance has had in her life and about her growth through her independent school experience! To know more about her and to read her speech, click "read more".
Miaya's speech from our 14th Annual Luncheon event!
Hello, I am Miayunique South and I am currently a senior at The Archer School for Girls.
In the story of my life, the chapter in which I was introduced to the Independent School Alliance is one of the most pivotal turning points in my life to date. But every story starts somewhere.
Chapter 1: The gradual realization. It was second grade when my mother realized that the education I was receiving from my local elementary school was not best suited for me. I was the kid who always raised her hand in class, asked questions constantly, and was willing to go the extra mile on every assignment. That’s why, from third grade throughout middle school, my mom committed to driving me 45 minutes to charter schools where I expanded my learning horizons and was finally being challenged to better myself as a student. Although the charter school experience was great in its entirety, my mom and I both knew that receiving a private school education could completely enhance my educational experience and transform me into the student, and person, I have always strived to be. Envisioning myself as a private school student was fairly difficult for me. I didn’t struggle with seeing myself sitting in the classroom and taking notes like any other course I’d been in, but rather, I struggled with thinking about how I’d get there. How would we be able to afford it? Were there certain requirements of applicants? Am I sure I’m ready for academics of that caliber? I know for a fact that my mom had the same worries plus a multitude of others that I couldn’t even fathom. We wondered how we could possibly get from point A to point D without knowing how to navigate the steps in between. Turns out, the Independent School Alliance was our much needed map.
Chapter 2: Hope and guidance. ISA helped my mother and I with finding schools that best suited me to apply to, filling out the long and, at times, strenuous applications for potential enrollment and financial aid, and helped me greatly with test prep, offering various classes to assist me with studying for the Independent School Entrance Exam. Anytime my mother had a question, ISA administration was available to her and answered every question with ease, giving us clarification throughout the process. I cannot recall a time during the process in which I, or my mom, was stressed out due to application season. The Alliance made all the paperwork easy to complete, organized every application in a comprehensible manner, and supported me in becoming confident in myself and my abilities.
Chapter 3: rejoice and transition. I distinctly remember my mom and I going to the mall the day admission decisions came out. We sat in the food court and opened all of the decision letters while I was scarfing down my orange chicken. I remember feeling a wave of emotion wash over me: partially a feeling of accomplishment for being accepted into a private school and partially a feeling of content knowing schools actually wanted me to attend their academic institutions. Once I had seen the schools I was accepted to, the Alliance then helped me prepare for the transition into the new environment. I attended their annual Summer Orientation Program and was able to learn in advance how to navigate my new school, how to navigate high school itself, and got the opportunity to meet other kids going into private schools across Los Angeles. This program allowed me to, for the most part, gear up for my new school and go in with confidence.
Chapter 4: Uncertainty. Once I started Archer, I fell in love with the campus, administration, and the new friends I had made, but I constantly wondered if I had made the right choice. I was unsure if this school would be best for me for the next four years of my life. I contemplated whether I was really okay with going to an all-girls school, worried about if I was a better fit at other schools I had considered, and even wondered if I should’ve applied to more schools so I could better weigh my options. But after I dramatically pondered my then-current position in life, I realized that I was only asking myself these questions because I was afraid of the unknown. There was no way I could look into an oracle and see how my life would turn out had I gone to another school and my unease was simply me fearing what was to come in the future, not knowing whether it’d be good or bad. But, what I should have realized back then is that it was the best choice for me because various factors had been considered. Our initial campus tour, our interactions with the community, their academic and extracurricular offerings, and so much more. The Alliance had helped my mother and me with learning about the schools before we applied and gave us security in our choices because we chose them for a reason. Now, after four years of attendance, I can say with certainty that Archer was the best choice for me and is one of the main forces that molded me into who I am today.
Chapter 5: Self-discovery. Although my school has been exceptional when it comes to teaching ability, I do notice a prominent ethnic disparity within the student and administrative body. Within the faculty and administration, I tend to only see people of color working as maintenance crew, athletic coaches, or language teachers. When I look around me, I see very few girls of color in my grade, let alone around school. I tend not to notice as much, though, since going to a predominantly white private school has pushed me more to find friends of color and associate myself with those who have a similar background as me, causing my friend groups to be widely diverse. But, once I understood that I wouldn’t always have the comfort of my diverse friend bubbles, I was forced to take a step back and analyze what being an African-American girl meant to me. It means having to work twice as hard for half as much. It means constantly facing microaggressions in today’s society and learning how to “control” yourself as not to come off as the ferocious beasts your ancestors were depicted as. It also means embracing who you are and standing up for your beliefs and your people. It means educating yourself on issues that affect all minority communities in order to effectively contribute to change that positively affects all people that have been systematically oppressed by American society. It means staying true to your roots, being bold, having a passion for education, and looking up to female leaders across the world, defying the negative stereotypes against them.
Chapter 6: Apply what you’ve learned. As an avid member of my school’s Black Student Union and a committed Youth Ambassador for the Independent School Alliance, I have learned so much about the treatment and presence of minorities both within the school community and American society. As a youth ambassador, I have been able to look at the demographics of private school student populations through a different light. Because of my various intriguing discussions with the other ambassadors during our meetings, I am able to understand why things within the schools and within this country are the way they are. I now develop ideas of my own that I feel could be implemented in different aspects of my school’s community and openly discuss them with friends and affinity club leaders. I can empathize with students at other schools going through similar yet completely different obstacles regarding addressing race within their school communities and their proposed solutions. Overall, being an ambassador has taught me about the changes that need to be made and let me know that I can be an agent for the necessary progress.
The Alliance has taught me so much throughout my time being in contact with them and has certainly helped prepare me for future endeavors, in college and beyond. I could write a book on how much appreciation and gratitude I have for the organization, but for now, the memories of their amazing work for minority students and their lasting impact on me will be kept in my mind and heart as the story of my life continues to expand. Thank you."