By Jaclyn Kotora, Contributing Writer (‘23)

It’s essential to recognize influential people who seek to brighten our country with their impactful contributions. Amanda Gorman, activist, former junior poet-laureate of the US, and Superbowl and Inauguration poet, has made lots of headlines lately, as she continues to inspire others through her insightful and moving words. This 22-year-old poet has already made great strides and has a bright future ahead. As she continues to overcome hardships and tackle her ambitions, she will undoubtedly continue to be a source of inspiration to all. Surely she will continue to be an inspirational figure for our nation as she tackles her ambitions and overcomes ongoing struggles.

When Gorman stood upon the podium and spoke to the world, her speech was seemingly flawless and undoubtedly moving; however, she had to overcome numerous hardships. Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1998, Gorman has struggled with an auditory processing disorder and speech impediment throughout her early life. She said in a CNN interview, “For most of my life, up until two or maybe three years ago, I couldn’t say the letter R. Even to this day, sometimes I struggle with it, which is difficult when you have a poem, in which you say rise five times.”

However, Gorman found appreciation and pride within her impediment. In an interview with Michelle Obama, she divulged, “For a long time, I looked at it as a weakness. Now I look at it as a strength because going through that process, it made me a writer, for one, because I had to find a form in which I could communicate other than through my mouth, and two, when I was brave enough to try to take those words from the page onto the stage, I brought with me this understanding of the complexity of sound, pronunciation, emphasis.”

Despite her early success and praise, Gorman emphasizes that it took her a lot of bravery, hard work, and perseverance to get where she is today. In the same interview with Michelle Obama, she acknowledged, “It’s easy when you see someone young have this type of astronomical life change to think that it’s instantaneous. I want to highlight that this took a lifetime, and it took a village…” She shares that in every poem she wrote, she made it worthy of an Inauguration poem. She made it something larger than herself–something that was brave, hopeful, and inspiring. Gorman adds, “I don’t think I would have been able to write that Inauguration poem if I hadn’t lived every day of my life as if that was the place I was going to get.”

Amanda Gorman continues to take poetry to a new level, as she uses it to inspire hope and wisdom among the masses, igniting a larger social movement. She describes poetry to Michelle Obama as “the heartbeat of movements for change.” When speaking of the Black Lives Matter movement, she explains, “you see banners say ‘they buried us, but they didn’t know they were seeds.’ That’s poetry being marshaled to speak of racial injustice.” She goes on to articulate how Martin Luther King’s revolutionary “I Have a Dream” speech is packed with poetry and figurative language, concluding with, “Never underestimate the power of art as the language of the people.”

Although she has accomplished outstanding achievements in her early life, Amanda Gorman’s influence is not dwindling. She will continue to fight against gender and racial injustice, as well as advocating for equality, literacy, rights, and education. She has many ambitions for her and the nation’s future and has made it clear that this is not the last time people will hear of her. She said, “Especially for girls of color, we’re treated as lightning or gold in the pan—we’re not treated as things that are going to last. You really have to crown yourself with the belief that what I’m about and what I’m here for is way beyond this moment… I am not lightning that strikes once. I am the hurricane that comes every single year, and you can expect to see me again soon.”