San Marcos sophomore Kavya Suresh is ready to make a difference
At 16 years old, Kavya Suresh isn’t quite sure what she wants to pursue after high school, but whatever she decides, she knows she has to be a changemaker.
Yet, Kavya is already doing just that, making an indelible difference in her community. She was recently selected to be the next student member on the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education, and although her term doesn’t technically start until the new school year, the outgoing teenager is already hitting the ground running.
Kavya, a sophomore at San Marcos High School, has grown up in Santa Barbara and has been a part of SBUSD since she was in seventh grade.
She is incredibly passionate about representation — ensuring students’ from all walks of life are heard and included and successful — and is heavily involved in her community through GENup Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Youth Council, Ethnic Studies Now, Youth Making Change and much more.
“When you’re in a position of leadership, especially as a student, so many people know who you are and so many people care about you, and you get to care about so many people,” Kavya told the News-Press. “That’s the biggest thing for me: I want people to know that I’m here for them, and I support them, and I want to uplift them.”
It’s the “unified” portion of the school district’s name that Kavya is honed in on as she gets ready to join the board.
She said she wants to address linguistic and ability segregation seen throughout the school system, describing it as “different tracks in our education.”
“I would like to see us collaborate and integrate and really get to know one another and create an education system that allows all students to feel like they’re able to achieve, regardless of their ability or their language or their background or their class or their ethnicity,” Kavya said.
To attain that, Kavya is advocating for more student representation throughout various committees and groups in the school district.
“I would like kids to feel more empowered and less like decisions are just made for them,” she said. “I want them to feel decisions are made with them and to help them and to represent them.”
To that end, Kavya praised the current board members for their compassion and dedication to students. She said they have made it clear their role is to serve students, and she’s ready to get to work with them.
She’s also excited to visit different schools and hear firsthand from other students — after all, she’s a self-described extrovert who loves being around other people — to get a general idea of concerns from her peers. Kavya is a collaborator, and she wants to work with students, parents, teachers, community stakeholders and anyone else on creating a vision to make SBUSD a better place.
Kavya exuberates a warm strength when she talks about her passion for advocacy and education. When she says she wants her fellow students to know, foremost, she is their friend and partner, it’s clear she is being forthright.
“The biggest thing I would want all students to know is before all, I’m their friend and their ally, and I’m their support. I just want to see everyone be successful,” Kavya said. “I want everyone to thrive, and I want everyone to create the change that they want to see, and I want everyone to feel empowered to do that.”
“I’m here to support them and uplift them and empower them,” she said of her classmates.
Kavya’s term on the school board will run through the next school year until June 30. Dawson Kelly, a junior at San Marcos High School, is the current student board member.