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    Niya Williams

    Niya Williams

    [cbtabs][cbtab title=[cbtab title=”English”]

    Painting a new and vibrant path way for the African American students at PRHS, Senior Niya Williams uses her voice to create a diverse union.

    [dropcap size=big]S[/dropcap]tepping onto the dimmed stage, lights beaming down, Niya Williams tilts her chin up at the audience, and speaks out with passion. Drama was the first stepping stone to the headstrong and talented leader she is today. Illustrating with her most powerful tool, her voice, she has contributed to PRHS by advocating for black student representation. However, the bold and courageous Williams didn’t emerge until after she unknowingly entered her future home, room 505.

    When she first entered Marcy Goodnow’s room, freshman Williams was “a meek, quiet, and observing soul,” Sondra Williams, her mother recalled. She started off the year participating in the performance production ensembles, slowly molding herself to be ready for bigger leads.

    “My ensemble roles have helped so much with working in groups, working in a team effort, and realizing that no matter how small you think the part is, it still contributes a significant amount to the story that you’re telling,” Williams explained. This last fall, Williams was given the lead role as Sugar, the mother of Sal in the production of “Walk Two Moons”. The part exposed her to new performing experiences and made her realize how powerful her voice is.

    “It was so amazing. I got to leave a lot of myself out onto the stage,” Williams expressed. “[Playing the part] was definitely a moment where I realized I can’t be shy anymore because I’ve been so vulnerable on stage. I’ve shared so much of myself with so many people. It’s a character that’s kind of embedded into who I am as a person,” Williams admitted.

    Taking the confidence she gained from being in Advanced Drama and Choir, Williams has also undertaken leadership roles in her community. One night while sitting at the kitchen table with her mother, they had a serious conversation “about the lack of representation on campus for African American students,” Williams stated. This led her to create the Black Student Union Club.

    At first nervous about the community’s response, she finally decided to follow her mother’s encouraging words. The summer of 2018, she started filling out paperwork, wrote a constitution, and found an advisor, Jennifer Martinez, two days before the paperwork was due. It became a hospitable environment “where [students could] come and seek people like themselves, relating to the same struggles,” Williams explained. She feels that in the club, students can relate to the challenges they face on campus, such as people touching their hair in the hallways and judging them based on stereotypes.

    “We invite all different opinions or viewpoints. We encourage open discussion with an emphasis on acceptance,” Martinez, the club advisor, said.

    When the club first started, Williams struggled with some backlash.

    “People here are open minded, but we do have occurrences here where they come up and say well ‘why do you have a Black Student Union. We don’t have a White Student Union.’ And it’s because you have been represented your whole life and I haven’t,” Williams declared.

    “Probably one of the most stressful moments was when we were at Club Expo and there had been a couple of people that had been very vocally opposed to me forming the Black Student Union. People kept coming by and crowding around the poster and going back to wherever they were, talk[ing] super loudly, say[ing] mean things. But it’s something that really gave me thicker skin. I always just ignore it because I know that it’s not my fault, it’s just their ignorance.”

    Now, attending San Jose University this coming fall, Williams plans to study Political Science as her major. With support from her family, she has developed a passion for politics. “Throughout the years she grew into this role that demanded to be heard! She had a lot to share and say and stand for, and just like her wild curly hair she was set free through education and the desire to seek the deeper meanings of life,” her mother said.


    Return to Super Seniors 2019

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    Pisando sobre el escenario atenuado, luces brillen para iluminar a Niya Williams, con su mentón apuntando hasta la audiencia, ella hable con pasión.

    By Jasmine Romero, Video Director

    [dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]omando clases de drama fue el primer paso para su evolución hasta convirtiéndose a la mujer voluntariosa y talentosa que ella sea hoy día. Ilustrado con su herramienta más poderosa, su voz, ella ha contribuido a PRHS al abogar por la representación de estudiantes negros.

    “Trabajar en un esfuerzo de equipo, y dando cuenta de que no importa cuán pequeña sea la, sigue contribuyendo significativamente a la historia que estás contando”, explicó Williams. Este otoño pasado, a Williams se le dio el papel principal como Sugar, la madre de Sal en la producción de “Walk Two Moons”.

    Tomando la confianza que ganó por estar en Drama Avanzada y Choir, Williams también ha asumido papeles de liderazgo en su comunidad, por lo que decidió iniciar la Black Student Union. El club se convirtió en un ambiente hospitalario “donde [los estudiantes] podían venir y buscar a personas como ellos, en relación con las mismas luchas”, explicó Williams.

    “Ella realmente ha crecido para usar su voz. “Ella siempre defiende todo lo que cree y se asegura de transmitir su punto de manera efectiva”, dijo Elizabeth Salvia, su mejor amiga desde la secundaria.


    Regreso a Super Seniors 2019


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