Kanyinsola Oye, a Columbus high school senior and two-time alumna of the department’s Young Writers Workshop, has co-written an article for Teen Vogue about the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting, gun control and the importance of activism. “Throughout my high school experience, I have been looked down upon by adults in my community for standing up for my beliefs. My appearance and mannerisms did not fit their standard of a leader. During classroom discussions, I would not speak up so that I wouldn’t fit into the stereotypical “angry black girl” image. I silenced myself to make others feel comfortable. But as I began to grow intellectually, I realized that it was essential that my voice was heard.” Oye’s experience in Young Writers Workshop helped motivate her to do just that—"With the help of my [YWW] teacher, Rachel Toliver, I came to value the importance of creative nonfiction. She quickly enticed me into that world, and I completely fell in love with writing essays about true life experiences, which led me to write my first freelance piece with Teen Vogue.”
The activism of the Parkland students in the past few weeks has been a major game-changer for gun control reform, especially, and somewhat surprisingly, in the corporate world. Brands like Walmart and LL Bean have finally committed to the cause of gun control by ending the sale of assault weapons in their retail stores. Dick's Sporting Goods, where the Parkland shooter legally purchased the weapon he used to perpetrate the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has also made the news in recent days by implementing their own form of internal gun control guidelines. However, this is only one step in a long journey towards making public spaces safer. In her article, Oye says that though there has not yet been a mass shooting in Columbus, Ohio, she feels that it is only a matter of time. Students like Ole and co-author, Julia Allwein, are the heart of the gun control movement, organizing protests and walk-outs such as those happening on March 14 and April 20, 2018—the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.