When we sat down for a Zoom interview with Jefferson High School senior Nkasa Bolumbu, we stood up afterward feeling enriched by her insights. This is a student who communicates with thoughtful intelligence and a layer of kindness that establishes her effective leadership style.
The impact of her words support the Black History Month student-established theme: The Time is Now. Bolumbu believes it’s time for Black students to feel empowered and have their voices heard. “I want for us to be seen, to be heard,” states Bolumbu, Black Student Union member.
She notes that it should not be a singular voice, but one of unity. “We can start a community of one, as we all have things in common,” she expresses. “We all have emotions and know at the end of the day that we are human beings that need to respect each other and need to be neighborly. Get to know that person and their culture through asking about their food, language and ethnicity. This is how we will build bonds and connections.”
“I met Nkasa when she was in middle school. She was a student ambassador and a part of our Africian American Awareness Program,” said Kim Abram, counselor at Jefferson High School. “From the minute I met her she was able to articulate her dreams and hopes for her younger siblings and cousins. Watching her plan, progress, and achieve has convinced me that she will exceed her wildest dreams. I’m honored to have a front row seat to see it all manifest.”
“Nkasa Bolombu is one amazing young woman” said Maria Irwin, ELL teacher at Jefferson High School. “Watching her blossom from an unsure ninth grader to the confident person that she’s become has been an honor to be a part of. I can only imagine greatness when I think about how she does and will continue to impact those around her.”
In her interview, Bolumbu noted the positive influence Kim Abram and Maria Irwin have projected on her. She also noted LaToya Harrington, CRCSD Diversity Recruiter and Black Student Union advisor, as a caring supporter, and Dr. Ruth White as “someone who helped shape me from a young age.”
We happened to speak with Bolumbu on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and she said his memory serves as a “prominent figure and a good soulful reminder of a peaceful movement.” She also shared that Maya Angelou’s words have enlightened her experiences and “made me realize that work with activism and everything in life is connected.” Langston Hughes’ poetry was one of her first exposures to a Black artist and she feels a special connection to his writings about the Congo, her home of origin.
The well-read senior encourages others to “educate yourself” on the topics of Black history. “Pick up a book, article, or simply listen to others,” she said. “Listening makes a person be seen.”