RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Most high school seniors think quite a bit about their future, like where they’ll go to college or get a job.
But Enloe High School senior Raven Heyward isn’t just concentrating on her own immediate plans — she’s focused on the working world and how to make it more inclusive.
Heyward, 17, uses a microphone to spread her message.
“It’s really about diversity, equity, and inclusion,” she explained. “It’s really what my passion is.”
That’s what she discusses in her podcast, called DiversifyHER. She’s spoken with business and education leaders, as well as entrepreneurs.
“It’s geared toward Gen Z, which is my generation, as we’re entering the workforce and also just young girls of color who can listen to it and feel inspired,” she said.
Her own experiences led her to create the podcast.
“It can be hard when I constantly feel that I don’t belong somewhere, or I feel that sometimes people are looking at me a certain way just because of the way I look,” she said.
“I actually had an experience at Yale, and it was a business entrepreneurship camp and in that I was really one of the few girls of color in that camp,” she said, adding that despite passing a rigorous application process, she says she felt out of place.
“I knew that I had a sense of belonging there, but I didn’t really feel like I had a seat at the table,” Heyward said. “It just really made me think, is this what it’s going to be like all the time when I am in a company.”
Her podcast isn’t her only project. She also focuses on inclusion while collecting donations for people experiencing homelessness.
“Some of the children are actually in need of multicultural hair products,” she said. “That’s not something you think of when you think of donations.”
She’s hopeful her efforts will make a difference for other young women of color and that her conversations will lead to new understandings.
“You’re really able to see just how far we’ve come,” she said. “And how much more we can do.”