During an IEP meeting her freshman year, Aaliyah Farmer’s mother noted how quiet her daughter was. Everyone present agreed that she had an excellent ability to advocate for herself when needed, but also that it would benefit her to be more social and speak up for the things in which she believed. Aaliyah took this to heart. As a senior now at McCluer North High School, she is more engaged in social activities and she’s found more of her voice in issues that matter to her.
“I have seen Aaliyah grow from a shy and timid freshman into a mature, focused and hardworking young woman,” said her case manager, Karyn Jones. “Aaliyah has grown to dedicate herself to being a voice for her peers and seeking change in both her school and community.”
Aaliyah knows how vital it is to be an advocate, as she has faced significant challenges in her academics and social life due to her disabilities. She is a member of the McCluer North chapter of the Best Buddies, and whenever an opportunity presented itself for her to lead an activity or engage students who didn’t want to talk to others, Aaliyah stepped in to encourage and support them as they practiced their social skills. Her ability to be a role model connected with other students and helped her continue her improvements in speaking up for herself and others.
In 2020, Aaliyah was disappointed with how her school was preparing for and supporting Black History Month. She took it upon herself to interview staff and students throughout the school community and translated that into a letter to school administration. Eventually, her message broke through and the school principal appointed her to lead a task force to educate the school on various elements of Black history that had been previously passed over. She led “The Black Excellence Moment” during the morning announcements and even continued her education segment into March, which was Women’s History Month.
Aaliyah is a strong student and plans to attend a four-year college to study psychology and psychotherapy. She has been accepted to several universities including the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Saint Louis University, where she received the Billiken Award, which is only awarded to 18 students each year.