My name is Makayla Rivera, I am a sophomore at West Orange High School, in West Orange, New Jersey. I am a member of the honors program at my school and a member of the Black Student Union and Unity Club. Further, my passion is poetry. I am a poet who has competed in the ACT-SO written poetry competition for two years. I was awarded a silver medal for my poem “Prayers To Catch a Butterfly” in 2021 and have performed my art at various spoken word events, galas, and fundraisers. To me, poetry is an escape from everyday life and a form of expression and empowerment. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to grow my artistic skills with the ACT-SO program, as my mentors and peers are an inspiration and essential part of my artistic journey. Outside of poetry, I am also a young activist. On March fourth, a group of my friends and I led and organized a school-wide protest against discriminatory dress-code enforcement, disparately targeting black students at West Orange High School. Although I am only a sophomore, I am eager to attend a prestigious college and further my education and passions for years to come.