Kiara M. Gilbert

Hometown – Charlotte, NC
Undergrad – Princeton University, BA, Philosophy/African American Studies
Major/Academic Interest – 2021 Marshall Scholar, University of Cambridge

Though born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Kiara hails from over half-a-dozen states — including Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, and North Carolina.  The product of an adventurous single mother, Kiara has learned to use her dual passions for literature and racial equity to propel her forward in academic spheres.

Usually leaving schools at the conclusion of the year, Kiara didn’t let her frequent relocations stop her from making lasting impressions on those surrounding her.  She began winning district-wide recognition awards in the fourth grade, immediately noting the pronounced lack of students of color in her advanced classrooms and award ceremonies.  Being the first woman in her immediate family to avoid a teenage pregnancy, and the first person who will attend college, Kiara knows how transformative education can be in the Black community.  This is why, after a number of turbulent moves, Kiara solidified her goal of diversifying homogenous academic settings.

Kiara became the founder and president of PRIDE (Paving Roads in the Direction of Equality) only six months after relocating in the middle of her sophomore year to her new home in Charlotte, North Carolina.  By the end of her sophomore year, she was selected alongside five other students in her school district to lead a discussion on student issues in front of nearly a thousand administrative officials. Here, Kiara used her experiences as an African-American student to push for district-wide diversity outreach programs.  She was subsequently asked to deliver similar speeches at schools within Charlotte.

By her junior year, Kiara had organized a panel exposing every underclassman taking a standard-level English course to low-income, academically prospering students of color; through this initiative Kiara has impacted hundreds of underclassmen.  She also recently worked with administration to create programs providing transportation from after school programs, and a scholarship for high-achieving Honors-level students.  Outside of the panel, Kiara has been a mentor for impoverished African-American middle schoolers for nearly the past two years through the organization Bulldogs Matter.

On top of those efforts, Kiara is also the president of her school’s student hunger drive initiative, a LEDA Scholar, and the founder and director of the Domestic Exchange Program — a program which organizes the dispersal of ESL students into Honors, AP, and IB-level classrooms.  While president of the school’s student hunger drive, Kiara’s innovative strategies in marketing and rallying school spirit led to a 217% increase from the last year’s profit.  In her senior year, as an attestant to her love of creative writing, Kiara won five regional accolades and three Gold Key medals for her written work through the Mid-Carolinas Scholastic Competition.  She was also one of fifteen students, out of the 2,500 who submitted, chosen to have their work erected on a billboard.

Kiara is immensely grateful for all the experiences that have shaped her into the young woman she is today.  She wants to continue advocating for the inclusion of African-American students in higher-education at her future university, and intends to double major in Philosophy and African-American Studies.