Every year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosts the Catalyst Conference, a weekend-long event that brings high school students together to explore social justice issues that impact young people in North Carolina.
Students from across the state apply to participate in the selective conference. This year, Asheville School junior Isoken Omoregbee earned one of the sought-after spaces. From February 16 to 18, she joined about 100 other high school students as they attended workshops and leadership events in Chapel Hill.
According to the conference webpage, the workshops aimed to introduce students to "issues of gender, racial and socioeconomic equality, educational disparity, immigration status, sexual orientation and more." Students learn from forging relationships, taking part in discussions around these topics and developing strategies to combat apathy and misinformation.
Omoregbee said the conference was empowering and taught her ways she could make a difference in her community.
"The workshop that I found most interesting was one about different forms of activism," she said. "We did this one on the last day, and it tied together the other things we learned during the weekend. We talked about what activism really is, common misconceptions about activism and how we could be activists."
Omoregbee said it was powerful to realize that she has the power to affect change. She hopes to share what she learned with her classmates by starting conversations with her peers.
"It was so meaningful to be surrounded by other people who are all in high school who see the necessity of talking about these issues and who want to become their own agents of change," she said. "It's important that our younger generations are educated about these issues because policies affect us. It is so important to not just sit back and expect older people to do all the work. If we want change, we make that change."Read more about the Catalyst Conference from UNC-Chapel Hill here.