The following is a speech written and delivered by Tilden PLC member Ka’Ja White. Ka’Ja presented this speech during a school-wide assembly on February, 11, 2015, where Chicago Bear Brandon Marshall and his wife Michi visited Tilden to promote their work on mental health awareness.


“What it means to me to be a leader is to be ahead of the game, to own your business, and to always know that you have a voice and it can be heard.  Whatever you want to be done, just put your mind to it and it can be done. Believe in yourself, and always believe in your voice.

When I first came to Tilden, I really couldn’t tell that there were problems in this school, until I came to Student Leadership [Council.] I heard from my peers that had been going here for years that nothing had changed. They were still eating the same food, still wearing the same uniforms, and couldn’t use their phones. So, I stepped up. We got to know each other as student leaders and built community. We looked at Tilden’s assets and deficits, and we did a poll with you all [the student body] to find out the top three issues. Then, we met with the administration to present our [policy] recommendations, and we got one recommendation approved.

Some might think changes aren’t happening, but change takes time. Like Brandon [Marshall] said to us earlier, paint the world green. Support and work with each other. We are a community.”