In her senior year alone, Tavia Roaché has spent nearly every activity block and lunch collaborating with group members of the Black Student Union, UNITE, Woman in Color and Student Equity. She also competes in volleyball and track, represents SMA though the Ambassador program and led and MC’ed SMA’s MLK Assembly, all while keeping up her studies. And Tavia says for her, this is just the start. “My long term dream is to be a civil rights attorney. I know I want to help people because I think there’s so many people without a voice.”
Tavia’s journey into leadership began freshman year when she was introduced to SMA’s Black Student Union. Although she was the only freshman in the group, it didn’t take long for members to notice her potential. “They were looking for a new leader for the following year and I put my name down not thinking much of it, and then after voting, all of a sudden they called my name. I thought, ‘I’m a real leader now’, and that helped my confidence especially because they were seniors and I was a freshman, but they trusted me with that role,” Tavia remembers.
Tavia says being a part of BSU has always been an important involvement for her because although she comes from a bi-racial family, her mom Caucasian and dad African-American, she says she’s experienced her personal share of racial discrimination and wants to be a part of the change around social justice. “People would say offensive things to me growing up that I never realized was a problem until I got older,” Tavia explained.
Throughout her four years at SMA, Tavia has established a name for herself within student leadership and has built relationships with fellow students and staff, both current and former. “I’d sit with Ms. Daniels and brainstorm things we could do. We spent so many hours organizing action plans, then I’d share some of those things with Ms. Taylor. Everyone was so supportive.”
Tavia also assisted in spearheading UNITE her junior year, a small group–turned-committee that embraces student diversity and covers topics around social justice with projects and initiatives created by its members. Her most recent accomplishment was this past January working alongside BSU members to write, produce and MC the 2nd annual MLK assembly, a school-wide presentation focused on exposing the raw emotions and experiences of various student affinity groups through speeches, music and dance. “It was so powerful and just hearing people’s experiences, that’s what makes it so worth it,” Tavia described. “I want people to leave the assembly more mindful of what they’re saying to other people. You never know what a person’s going through, and it’s important for us to understand someone’s race, ethnicity or religion and help them deal with any struggles they may face.”
Once Tavia graduates this summer, she’ll leave behind an imprint on SMA that marked the beginning of something special and important to her, “I’m sad to leave but looking forward to all of the new things SMA has planned for the future including more events around Black History Month and a step team.” After SMA, she’ll be attending Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, where she was recently invited to their Black Scholars day, an exclusive networking event where 30-50 incoming students from around the U.S. are chosen to meet and talk with campus professors.
And as far as someone taking her place at SMA in her current leadership roles, “I trust a fellow student here that’s passionate, vocal, well-spoken, and smart. I know she’ll be able to keep things going when I’m gone.”