Meet Our Diversity Champion of the Month
Graduate of John Burroughs High School Class of 2021
Born and raised in Burbank with Mexican and Armenian roots, Sophia Moore is a freshly graduated senior from John Burroughs High School. She's attended BUSD schools all her life and has learned incredibly powerful lessons pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She served as an advocate on BUSD DEI Subcommittees, the Diversify Our Narrative chapter of Burbank, and the Burroughs Junior State of America chapter. Sophia is committed to learning and fighting for inclusion inside and out of the classroom, particularly when it comes to classroom literature and curriculums. In the fall, she will be continuing her education at Syracuse University studying political science and journalism with an honors distinction.
Q: Where did your DEI journey begin?
A: I often credit my reading of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros as the beginning of my journey as an advocate for diversity. In reality, I’ve been fighting for diversity and visibility all my life as a person of color, but my objective only became clear after reading that novella. My freshman English teacher had recommended the book to me as a study in vignette writing, but it quickly became so much more than that. The House on Mango Street was the first book I saw myself in.
Q: Why is diversity and representation important to you?
A: There is an unexplainable power in positively recognizing yourself and your culture in literature. There is a lightness, a satisfaction, a feeling of being understood. Never before had I read about a Mexican-American character in a leading role, especially not in the classroom. That feeling is why diversity is so important to me. Since then, I’ve sought to explore my culture through my family and other pieces of media. What I’ve found is that media representing BIPOC joy is often rare and hard to come by, and that shouldn’t be the case. Even more upsetting, a lot of people around me didn’t seem to care about the lack of representation, which was even more frustrating. I was disheartened by the lack of diversity and inclusion in popular media, I just didn’t know what I could do about it. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to change the whole world, but I wanted to do something.
Q: Tell us more about your recent DEI involvement.
A: In August of 2020, I had the opportunity to create a Diversify Our Narrative chapter for Burbank Unified. Frustrated with the lack of diversity in the school curriculum I’ve experienced, and equally inspired by the possibility of empowering more students through my work, I took the project on. The task was simple: petition for Burbank Unified to adopt a diverse, inclusive reading curriculum. The work was hard: emailing and texting dozens of teachers, students, parents, friends, trying to convince them to sign the petition or share the message. But as DON caught traction, other advocates revealed themselves to me and wanted to help too. We became a small army, making posts and spreading the word, battling the trolls in our comment section as we continued to spearhead a more inclusive future.
It was this project that led me to the Burbank Unified Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. The DEI gave me an even greater opportunity to fight for a literature curriculum that gave more visibility to students of color. Finally, I met adults and district officials who not only were interested in what I had to say but believed in the message I was fighting for. Believed in that feeling that I had in 9th grade. Being invited to join the DEI Instruction subcommittee was the best thing that could’ve happened to me, and the place where I was truly able to share why diversity is important in students’ reading.
Q: How has your work in DEI shaped you?
A: My senior quote this year was from The House on Mango Street: “You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.” Being a Diversity Champ is as much a part of my identity as my name, and that’s something that I’ve grown into over the past year. I’ve been so lucky to advocate for change in Burbank Unified, and I’m honored to be recognized for my work. I’m excited to keep using my voice in the next chapter of my life--louder, stronger, and empowered because of Burbank.
Nominate a Diversity Champion
We are looking to create a school community that values its diversity and encourages inclusion in every facet of school life--from students to teachers, from custodians to administrators. We want to share how BUSD employees, families, and the extended community are using superpowers to make a better, more inclusive world built on diversity and respect. Is that you or someone you know? We would love to highlight this good work. Take a moment and let us know by filling out this nomination form.