Meet Sumer

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West Virginia fellow
School:

Hannan Junior/Senior High

Host Organization:

Inspire WV

Year Born:

2001

If I could have one superpower, it would be:

I would choose the ability to freeze time for everyone except for who I select. My days seem like there just aren’t enough hours to get everything done!

How long have you been thinking about making change or engaging other youth in making change?

My whole youth, I have been an advocate. Living in a rural town in West Virginia, it’s not hard to push the boundaries of “normal.” I first started engaging with my peers during the most recent presidential election. No matter the side – everyone could agree, it was one of the most dividing elections we might ever see. I have become an active participant in my civic community since. It has become my personal mission to illustrate how influential even the smallest voices can be.

Have there been any particularly important moments that keep you motivated?

Knowing that I can make a difference, or shine light on someone who can, keeps me motivated.

Do you have any stories to share about that experience?

I have a teacher who is currently running for house of delegates. I was the first person she told when she decided to run. When she filed, she said to me, “I’m doing this for you. You are our future, and I want to give you hope.”

What issues or problems matter to you?

I have many areas I wish to impact. However, I focus on LGBTQ and women’s rights the most.

What motivates you to be involved in creating change in these areas? 

Both LGBTQ and Women’s rights hit very close to home for me. I came out to my best friend as gay at my ninth birthday party. After coming to terms with myself, I slowly came out to my family. By my early teens, I was already facing rejection by some of the people I most dearly loved. I, as well, identify as a woman. As someone who can be affected directly by the laws put on my body – I refuse to be silent. These issues are both something I can put personal drive into.

What do your friends and your family think of your involvement?

Many of my friends share the same beliefs as I do. Not many are as vocal about it, but they do stand beside me during all my events, debates, and protests. My family is a little more skeptical, but it was expected, due to my hometown area. My parents support me in everything I do, no matter if they think my goals are out-of-the-box.

How do you feel that your work has made a difference?

My voice lets others my age know they can make a difference. Even if I am not yet making or changing laws, I am showing them that their voice matters. That, in itself, is the biggest difference I could hope to make.