Katherine Matsukawa (Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan Class of 2019) is a sophomore at Yale and plans to study Ethics, Politics, and Economics, as well as participate in the Education Studies program. She hopes to pursue a career in education policy and is already participating in education reform through the #DiversifyOurNarrative campaign, on which she serves as Director of Communications.
The campaign, founded by two of Katherine’s friends from the Junior State of America program, has a mission to “fight to be anti-racist and encourage a productive dialogue on race and identity among our student bodies through the inclusion of racially diverse, anti-racist texts in USA schools.” The grassroots campaign has grown to nearly 4,000 student organizers across the country and Katherine helps to coordinate their efforts. Her work was recently highlighted by another Alliance alumna, Sofia Rizkkhalil from Alliance Tennenbaum Family Technology High School, in the UCLA publication La Gente.
“I’m really passionate about education and I think right now our high schools nationwide could do more for students and be more inclusive of students who identify with marginalized communities,” shared Katherine. She explained that incorporating authors of color into high school curricula is one way to increase inclusivity, as it will allow students to see themselves as protagonists. Katherine adds that “I was fortunate at Mohan to have English and history teachers who taught from an anti-racist perspective. They taught us that the founding fathers weren’t flawless, as history books often portray them to be.” Her AP literature teacher also included poetry by authors of color, which made the course “so much more engaging and empowering,” noted Katherine.
Katherine returned to Alliance this summer as a Home Office intern for the Academics and Organizational Strategy teams. Her biggest takeaway of the experience was “seeing all the work that goes into the operations of a school. So much attention to detail is put into making sure that each scholar is accounted for. And that encompasses everything from ensuring that they are enrolled in summer school to updating their graduation status to double-checking that their last name is spelled correctly in the databases.”
#DiversifyOurNarrative is currently advocating for at least one book by an author of color to be incorporated into the English curriculum for all grades and is training volunteers in districts throughout the U.S. on how to lobby their school boards. If you’d like to get involved, follow their social media accounts (Twitter Facebook Instagram) and sign the petition for diverse literature today!