Jaleyna Lawes is a rising senior at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida, and one of the runner-up winners in the 2021 We the Students Essay Contest. Jaleyna is very involved in activities at Flanagan, including membership in the Broward Youth Coalition, CADCA Youth Leadership Initiative, Change Is Ours, Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders, Black Student Union, Yearbook, DECA, and the National Honors Society. Her favorite subjects are AP United States History, AP English Language and Composition, African American Literature, and Journalism.
A figure from history Jaleyna admires and would definitely follow if she were alive and on social media today is Maya Angelou. “Her raw honesty in her exploration of the intersections between Blackness and womanhood has always informed the way I navigate the world around me as a Black woman,” says Jalyeyna. “It would be interesting to hear her insights on the world as it is now, what has changed, and what progress still needs to be made.”
Health equity and security, affordable housing, and access to education are the three most important issues to Jaleyna as a future voter. She is concerned about the numerous racial, socioeconomic, and gendered disparities in access and opportunity to education and health care, and as a result wants to advocate for more equitable public health through social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and research. She plans to pursue degrees in the history of medicine and public health.
“I truly believe that an understanding of past national and global health practices, both in their triumphs and their shortcomings,” says Jaleyna, “can help inform how we perceive and attain health and wellness in the present and future.”