At Emory’s Carter Town Hall, Yara Shahidi discusses the process of ‘figuring it out’ while still amplifying voices
After the event concluded, students stuck around in hopes of snapping a photo with Shahidi, soaking in her wisdom and talking about the program among themselves.
Grace Tierney, from Edmond, Oklahoma, and Hans Khoe, from Los Angeles, are both second-year masters of public health students in the Rollins School of Public Health. Tierney had heard Shahidi speak to students via Zoom several years ago and was inspired.
“Hearing Shahidi during my time in undergrad really pulled me into the policy space, what she had to say about including others and her drive to include the community,” Tierney said.
For Khoe, the time management aspects stood out. “Her latte story, especially,” he laughed. “I can relate to that.”
Kayla Ferjuste, a first-year student from Norwalk, Connecticut, is part of Emory’s Black Student Alliance and learned about the event — and the storied history of the Carter Town Hall — through that organization. “I knew it would be a great space to be in, especially with someone so young, so close to my age that I can really relate to,” she said.
Olaleye is from Philadelphia, and is a second-year majoring in psychology, minoring in ethics, on the pre-med track. She was most excited to hear about Shahidi’s personal experiences — especially when it came to college.
“Yara said a lot of inspiring things, but personally, it’s the concept of finding time for yourself, even as we grow up,” Olaleye said. “She mentioned that, as college students, we focus on grades and numbers. But looking at things we care about outside of that, it’s important to align our values into those, too.”
And how did it feel to ask Shahidi a question?
“I was nervous!” Olaleye said. “But she was so sweet, and I loved her response to the question.”
Not only was Shahidi candid and relatable, but she left students with actionable steps, like finding the intersection of their passion and skill set, looking for the most specific way to impact their community, rather than the largest; and tapping into self-compassion along the way.
“I oftentimes speak of this concept of indebted gratitude,” she said. “We’re kind of born with this debt to carry on in that work and to make a pathway forward for the people that are going to come after us.”
About this story: Text by Michelle Ricker. Design by Ruby Katz. Photos by Sarah Woods (Emory Photo/Video), Jenni Girtman and student Victor Zhou. Video by Corey Broman-Fulks and Damon Meharg.