Kaileah Gaynor ’20 Malcolm/King Award Winner Sets Her Sights On Law School

Kaileah Gaynor ’20 Malcolm/King Award Winner Sets Her Sights On Law School

Kaileah Gaynor ’20 Malcolm/King Award Winner Sets Her Sights On Law School

To continue our celebration of Black History month, and in anticipation of our 29th Malcolm/King Awards Breakfast, we spoke with the recipients of the Malcolm/King Award. Their success serves as an inspiration to students of all races, and their deep understanding and appreciation of African-American history is a testament to the many contributions African-Americans have made to this country. Our first “Malcolm/King Award Spotlight” is Kaileah Gaynor, a junior majoring in Law and Society.

February is Black History Month. What does it mean to you to celebrate the many achievements African-Americans have contributed to this country?
It makes me proud and honored to be where I am today, and to have the opportunities that I have today. Years ago, school wasn't accessible to African-Americans—especially for women. To be able to come to school and achieve a higher education is an honor. 

What goals do you have for advancing equality and fairness for all people, especially African-Americans? 
I currently work as an after-school counselor for kindergarten and first grade. What I really want to do is to work in legislation, making sure that all schools have the same resources that upper-class, predominately white neighborhoods already have—the sports programs, the music programs, the language classes. I want to make sure that all kids have these resources.

“What I really want to do is to work in legislation, making sure that all schools have the same resources that upper-class, predominately white neighborhoods already have.” —Kaileah Gaynor, ’20

When you think of African-American history, what makes you the proudest?
Probably the perseverance and the drive that a lot of our ancestors had in paving the way for the future generations. Both of my grandparents immigrated from Jamaica. My grandmother came to the United States and got her bachelor’s degree. Then she got her master’s degree and became a teacher. My grandfather was a mechanical engineer and worked tirelessly to make sure that my father would be able to go to school and get his education. They pushed us all to do the same thing. 

If you could talk to Malcolm X or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., what would you say to them?
First, I would say thank you. Then I would ask them what kept them going, especially through such a hard time when they were facing adversity and everyone was against them. They still continued to fight and work towards an equal world where there is opportunity for all. 

Dr. King once famously said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” As a student at a school focused on justice, what does that quote mean to you? 
At the end of the day, justice will prevail. You may feel like you are always fighting and you may not see the end point, but even though the road is long it will always lean towards justice and equality. 

“At the end of the day, justice will prevail.” —Kaileah Gaynor, ’20

What does it mean to you to receive the Malcolm/King Award? 
It's an honor to receive this scholarship. It's the first scholarship that I've ever gotten. I don't get financial aid, so I have to take out loans and pay out-of-pocket. I plan on going to law school after John Jay, and this helps ease the weight of those loans.

If everything goes according to plan, where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
In 10 years, I see myself finished with law school and practicing law. Right now, I'm looking at the University of Miami Law School. I'm not 100 percent sure where I will be, but I know that I want to go into legislation and work on making laws for underprivileged schools or for women's rights.