Kelly Choi (second to left) marches at the Saturday March For our Lives rally.

Photo provided by March For Our Lives

Person of the Week: Kelly Choi

student activist and March For our Lives organizer

April 21, 2018

Throughout history, teenagers and young adults around the world have played a pivotal role in activism. Students like senior Kelly Choi have found a deep rooted passion for activism and empowerment in light of recent events.

Throughout her life she has known she wanted to help the world and turn it into a better place.

“There is no clear beginning to my activism,” Choi said. “I think ever since I was young, I wanted to change the world. My dream as an eight year old was to be an environmentalist, while that has changed, the sentiment is the same. The only difference is that my goals have grown larger and my passion has burned brighter.”

Choi has become heavily involved with March For Our Lives, a program created and inspired by students who want to fight gun violence around the world.

“I was one of the lead organizers for March for Our Lives,” Choi said. “My main job was to deal with public relations and media. This meant that I was the link between the march and outside organizations to help garner support and attention towards the movement.”

Her decision to become an activist stemmed from a story held by many others.

“I chose to participate because I am sick and tired of all our headlines being one mass shooting after another,” Choi said. “As a percentage, the gun violence rate in this country is much higher than any other developed country in the world. This is nothing to be proud of. I think most are in agreement that something must change.”

Her political and social passions spread to many different topics and issues.

“I’m passionate about so many things, but I guess my main thing is giving a voice to the minority. This includes, but is not limited to, race, gender, and LGBTQ+ rights,” Choi said. “All my life I have never seen or heard of anyone who looked like me in politics or even pop culture, I felt like I didn’t have a position of influence. I do what I do because I don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

As a once shy student, Choi has been able to find her passion and voice of activism through participating in March For Our Lives.

“As a person, it has really given me a sense of identity,” Choi said. “I identify myself as someone who is outspoken. I used to not be like that, but seeing all of these other kids and all these other people standing up for what they believe in had made me feel like maybe I can make a difference as well. That’s how it has changed my life.”

So far, her participation in, and seeing the impact of, the March for Our Lives rally has been one of her proudest time as an activist.

“My proudest moment was definitely the Saturday of March for Our Lives,” Choi said. “It was so surreal seeing weeks of hard and endless work come into fruition. Us students had gotten over 15,000 people in one area, all rallying for the same thing.”

While activism plays a large role in her life, Choi also has a passion for literature and music.

“I am an activist, but I am also more,” Choi said. “Music has always been a huge part of my life, and I even almost competed in a singing show in South Korea. I am also a huge book nerd- books are always better than movies hands down. My love for reading also trickled into a love for writing, which I enjoy doing in my spare time.”

Choi believes all young adults should find issues they are passionate about and advocate for them.

“Teenagers should be activists because we are the future,” Choi said. “We are the future congressmen and congresswomen. We are the future artists. We are the future CEO’s. And most importantly, we are the future voters. Being active in the political realm affects everyone, even us.”

She advises students who want to participate, but are unsure of how and where to start, to ditch their fears and reservations.

“The biggest advice I can give to aspiring activists is to not be afraid to speak out on what you believe in,” Choi said. “The only thing holding you back from being the change you want to see in the world is yourself. No matter what opposition you may face, no matter what criticism, fighting for something your passionate about is all worth it in the end.”

At the end of the day, Choi believes she is just like everyone else who holds a system of beliefs.

“I’m just a person who believes in things,” Choi said. “I believe in the power of words, I believe in caring for my family and friends, I believe in doing what I think is right and I believe in doing everything with my heart and soul. That will never change.”

Being an activist and advocate is a part of her personality that she plans on carrying with her throughout her future.

“I plan to continue my activism far beyond high school,” Choi said. “I am currently working on a nonprofit called Students Rise, which specifically targets youth civic engagement and increasing youth voter turn out. I also want to join my college’s student government to create local change in a place that directly affects me and my peers.”

Kelly Choi will be attending the University of Texas and plans on double major in English and Government. She hopes to later go on to law school.

 

[Top Photo: Kelly Choi (second to left) marches at the Saturday March For Our Lives rally. Photo provided by March For our Lives]

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