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CLARKE AUSTIN (18) was born in Los Angeles where she and her brother were raised primarily by their mother.  She graduated from Notre Dame Academy Girls High School in Los Angeles, where she was active in Student Council, earned the pillar award of “Women of Vision,” was co-founder and president of the school’s first Black Student Union, earned a place on the school’s honor roll every semester she was enrolled, and graduated with a 3.95 weighted GPA (3.67 unweighted GPA). She also worked in a local community garden, was active in her church community, Girl Scouts, the Mayor's Youth Council, and Youth and Government (a YMCA model legislature and court program for civic engagement of teens across California, where she was Bill Committee Chair and oversaw the writing of a bill about police officer body camera regulation). Among her YMCA leadership roles, Clarke was 1 of 23 students selected to represent California in a National Judicial Mock Trial and Appellate Court Competition, in Chicago.  Clarke cites her experience as a camp counselor as a “joy” working with youth, and says she is passionate about law and protecting citizen rights.  She will be attending Kalamazoo College in Michigan studying Sociology with a pre-law track, and an Education/Child Development minor. She has specific interest in Juvenile Justice, representation of youth in the foster care system, minority advocacy, and addressing the “school to prison pipeline.” 

 

Clarke's American Literature teacher at Notre Dame Academy commented on her “extraordinary desire” to “use her education to effect positive change for marginalized people.”  He wrote, “As her teacher, I observed Clarke's drive, passion and respect for everyone. She has a talent for standing up for her community and conveying her personal and political views without compromising her ability to build partnerships with others. I witnessed her genuine engagement with her peers, even those who may have disagreed with her, and always walked away with a sense of gratitude at her ability to maturely and assertively advocate for causes she cares about. I have taught few students with a greater ability to support movements that aid people who are disenfranchised and marginalized by society at large.”  Her math teacher made note of her voluntary participation in rigorous Mastery Test Analysis each time her score was less than an A, and the “level of proactive responsibility” that she rose to during COVID-19 school shutdown, such that she was yet able to earn a solid A.  Her school's Guidance Director was “most impressed with Clarke’s ability to balance a competitive academic workload with her many activities and sports at Notre Dame Academy,” her demonstrated ability to not only participate in many different activities but to become a leader in them, and her “extremely positive personality” and “can do attitude.”

 

REGARDING THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN, Clarke writes, “It's that drive and dedication that I and the airmen have in common that speaks to our character and inspires other people to be persistent.”  “Like them, instead of getting discouraged, I try to let the quality of my talents speak for themselves,” and she refers to the influence of Documented Original Tuskegee Airman, Roger ‘Bill’ Terry who lived a couple of houses from her grandmother in Inglewood.  She writes that the “legacy and honor of the Tuskegee Airmen” “inspired me to face my challenges and form my own path when one isn't provided.”  Clarke writes, “It's important to remember the strides those before me took,” and “I hope to keep in mind the strength and courage the Tuskegee Airmen had. And remember the great responsibility of being the first to do something, because when I am the first not only am I setting an example, but I'm paving the way for others.”

 

School Extracurriculars and Community Activities in which Clarke was involved, include:

  • Queen’s Council

  • Student Council

  • Black Student Union (Co-founder, President)

  • Notre Dame Academy United

  • Regal Pride

  • Varsity Softball & Dance (in her High School context)

  • Girl Scouts (2007-present, Ambassador)

  • YMCA (Youth and Government 2017-Present, Committee Chair; Westchester, Delegation Vice President, Community Outreach Committee; Model United Nations Secretariat: leading middle schoolers in debate on international affairs, facilitated parliamentary procedure; customer service at local pumpkin patch and Christmas tree lots, coordinated beach cleanup, oversaw canned food drive, led fundraising team, organized community conversation on current events)

  • Loyola varsity cheer (2017-present, Co-captain)

  • National Judicial Competition (2019, week-long nationwide competition in Chicago, Illinois)

  • California Youth Think Tank/ USC Leadership program (2018, 2019)

  • American Civil Liberties Union: National Advocacy Institute (2020, week-long national high school program for the next generation of social justice advocates)

  • Social Justice Learning Institute (address health/wellness by distributing free produce, Zumba class assistant for elderly women)

  • Hope In A Suitcase (organize retail and essentials for foster children, help children shop)

  • Zion Hill Baptist Church (collect/organize clothing donations/distribution, assist with youth program production)

  • Angel Tree Christmas (select/distribute gift for children of incarcerated parents)