Kayla Harris, a Masters of Education Student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Duquesne University has established herself as a campus leader and peer mentor committed to social justice. She has worked in campus and community to address equity and justice issues occurring not only in our city, but also across the region. As an undergraduate and graduate student she has committed her scholarly pursuits to understanding the social and psychological needs of individuals and families, working to support the growth and development of clients' skills and competencies necessary for learning and growth as well as fostering healthy relationships and living environments. Kayla serves as a Graduate Student in the Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research where she co-teaches a social-justice seminar for the Community-Engagement Scholars program and develops, implements, and assesses student-facing DEI programming across campus. In her spare time, Kayla is an avid volunteer and holds several campus leadership roles where she advocates for inclusive pedagogy, policy, and practice, while also working to educate her peers on the experiences of marginalized individuals and empowering them to find their role and passion as agents of social change both on and off campus.
Growing up I was that child that always asked the question, “why?” about everything.One day I remember specifically, is when my mom told me I have to work twice as hard than other people to be able to have better opportunities. I immediately asked why? Why do I have to be more qualified than everyone else in the room? This is when I started to learn about intersectionality. Finding out that my race and biological sex was creating an automatic setback for me in society did not make sense to me. This made me want to understand how other societal systems define us, systems like socioeconomic status, family makeup, etc. People do not get the option to chose what circumstance they are born into, so how is it fair to define and catorgorize them before even giving them the opportunity to be someone great. The work I do with Strong Women, Strong Girls, CETR, and at Macedonia FACE has given me the opportunity to work with communities that these societal systems define so heavily and to provide them better spaces that can give that opportunity to someone to be great.