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Perspectives on Teen Leadership from Hawa


Through visits to museums, talks with arts professionals, and exchanges with their peers, the Teen Leadership Council nurtures creativity and ambition in developing the next generation of cultural programmers. We sat down with Hawa, who joined the Teen Leadership Council in 2018, to ask about her experience.

Photo: Ginny Huo

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m seventeen years old and I live in Crown Heights. I’m a senior in high school and can’t wait to graduate. I love music, and I love the arts.

What made you apply to the Teen Leadership Council?

Last year I was trying to build up my résumé and set up my extracurricular activities. I thought this program would make me stand out as part of a great institution. I also felt that the program matched my identity, so I gave it a shot.

How did you hear about the program?

My art teacher at school. She would put things on the board of what’s happening and your poster with the pin of Black Lives Matter stood out to me and that’s what made me want to do this.

What was one of your favorite things you did at the Teen Leadership Council?

I loved the art therapy workshop. Before that I had never heard of it and it was pretty cool to find out how someone can learn about somebody else from what they draw. I also liked the talk with Kimberly Drew and hearing about her experience at a place like The Met.

What were some ways that you grew from the experience with the Teen Leadership Council?

I feel like I got to learn more about hidden information. For example, prior to this program, I never heard about the Young Lords, so I went home and I searched for more about it and watched a documentary. Then I told my friends about it. I really liked learning about that part. I also found a new appreciation for art. I always liked art, but I gained a lot of appreciation for it.

What will you take from the experience?

Young people are definitely at the forefront of revolution, and art is something that makes you feel good, so whenever you are feeling down, paint or listen to different types of art.

What or who inspires you?

Tupac, I love how unapologetic he is. The confidence he had in himself when people didn’t have confidence in him is definitely inspirational to me. My mom as well, because she’s loving and caring and I hope to bring that wherever I go.

What are some of your favorite things at the moment?

The movie If Beale Street Could Talk, and I want to read the book now. I’m also reading Trevor Noah’s book Born a Crime about his experiences growing up in South Africa during apartheid. It’s pretty good.

What music are you listening to right now?

A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, ’90s hip-hop.

What are things that make you happy?

My family. I also love movies. If I don’t pursue a pre-med track, I would do something with movies.

Do you have goals for yourself for 2019?

Read more black authors and learn more about Islam. I want to read more James Baldwin. I want to be the valedictorian—it’s a close race between me and my best friend.

Any advice for teens like you?

Step out of comfort zones, join clubs, and do extracurricular activities, because for me that’s how I’ve been able to get exposed to lots of different things and meet a lot of different people. Don’t be afraid to join something that you thought you would never join.

We are excited for you and your bright future. Thank you, Hawa!

–Ginny Huo

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