We are incredibly proud of our alumni and will be featuring their stories in each Whole Child Review. Ramya Herman is a KIPP Academy Chicago (KAC) alum who is currently at Lake Forest Academy, a co-ed college prep school. As she pursues her goal of attending Stanford for her undergraduate degree, she has already published a book of poems, at the age of 16, through Barnes and Noble, Headspace of a Headcase. The book focuses on social justice issues, self love, love of others, and growth. Ramya says, “my intention was to create emotion and to provide literature that would allow people to form connections. A lot of people have told me their different interpretations of my poems and how they saw it manifesting in their lives, and for me that’s one of the most rewarding results of the book.” Ramya aspires to become a Supreme Court justice, but her ultimate passion and purpose is creating change in the world both through her actions, words, and art.
Arthur and Claire Muchin, longtime KIPP supporters who also taught a class at KAC and KIPP Ascend Middle School called  The Art of Negotiation, have developed a special relationship with Ramya, visiting her on campus, and staying connected. They say about her, “when bright exceptional students intersect with outstanding teachers, great things happen. We met Ramya Herman six years ago when she was a member of our Art of Negotiation class at KIPP Academy. We were so impressed with her leadership skills, creativity, and enthusiasm. We were delighted when she reached out to us last May and shared her pride as she reached her goal of becoming a published poet by age 16. She has been as successful at Lake Forest Academy (where she earned a full scholarship) as she was at KIPP. We look forward to seeing what her future holds and we know the world will be a better place because of her.”

When did you become interested in writing poetry?

I genuinely can’t say I remember a time when I wasn’t writing poetry, but of course that would have had to be the case at some point, so I guess I’ll go with third grade. I was introduced to Maya Angelou’s poetry by my third grade teacher who was honestly an amazing woman. I don’t have her contact information but I would thank her if I could- that was the year when I first started really writing stories and planning to write a book, and she was always excited about my ideas and encouraged them. So both my love of poetry and my determination to produce a book both appeared that year. I had previously enjoyed writing (I’m pretty sure from the moment I was able to), but poetry was different. It was this structural freedom that made words feel like art.

“Women are strong, and my mom is a special kind of strong. If she wanted to make the world rotate differently she could...”

When did you become interested in writing poetry?

I genuinely can’t say I remember a time when I wasn’t writing poetry, but of course that would have had to be the case at some point, so I guess I’ll go with third grade. I was introduced to Maya Angelou’s poetry by my third grade teacher who was honestly an amazing woman. I don’t have her contact information but I would thank her if I could- that was the year when I first started really writing stories and planning to write a book, and she was always excited about my ideas and encouraged them. So both my love of poetry and my determination to produce a book both appeared that year. I had previously enjoyed writing (I’m pretty sure from the moment I was able to), but poetry was different. It was this structural freedom that made words feel like art.

Who Inspires you?

My mom inspires me. I know that’s what everyone says, but I think there’s a reason for that. Women are strong, and my mom is a special kind of strong. If she wanted to make the world rotate differently she could, but those aren’t her goals so she doesn’t. She has a very kind heart, and while I’m like her in a lot of ways, I also aspire to be her in other ways. She’s one of those people who doesn’t let the world beat up on her when it tries to, and sometimes when it feels like I’m getting that same treatment from the world it’s nice to know that I come from someone who not only lives in a very empowered and elegant way but wants me to do the same but better than her. She’s my biggest supporter and yes, a lot of what makes up a person’s success is internal, but she’s constantly molding me into the person who is able to create a form of unmatched success for herself. A lot of the opportunities I have are really because she put me in the place and time to get them and because she gave me the tools to properly handle those opportunities. She’s been imperative to my growth, my life, and therefore imperative to my writing.

What are your favorite topics or themes to write about?

Ramya Herman excerptMy favorite topics are social justice issues and self growth. Social justice is a big part of the world–despite the term “minority”, there are many people who have to experience the day to day tribulations of being a marginalized group, and even if they aren’t necessarily experiencing it every day they see how the different ways that they are identified affect them. The goal of my writing is to make people feel heard, to make people want to listen, and to inspire change–it’s my way of following the cliched quote of being the change I want to
see in the world. The reason that I enjoy writing about self growth is because I’m constantly developing into the person I want to be and hopefully will be years from now, and this is an important time in my life that will impact me later on. Writing is my outlet and while an author writes for an audience, a writer writes for themselves. There are two different kinds of love and emotion and passion put into those two different kinds of writing, and once I had written to interpret the world, I then wrote to interpret myself because at the end of the day that’s home base. It centers me and makes my writing turn into more than words- they’re emotions, experiences, and overall understanding of myself.

What are some of your next goals?

My next goals in terms of my business are to revise my manuscript for my new book and things of that nature so that once the first one is up and running I can start focusing on getting the second one out. I’m also working on building my website and the sweatshirt like that accompanies the book. In terms of life my next goal is always to do better. I want to do better academically, socially, emotionally, and in my business endeavors. I’m hoping to improve my grades and I’ve applied to pre-law programs for the summer so that I can better prepare and have a more defined idea of what things will look like for me after next year.

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