Da'Shayla Foard: The Next Generation of Advocacy
Da’Shayla Foard, an incoming senior at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, is already well versed in politics and the issues that face her community both at school and in Dallas as a whole. Not only is she the incoming Student Body President at her high school, but she is also a member of the Young Women’s Advisory Council for the Texas Women’s Foundation- a Dallas based nonprofit that seeks to make women full participants of an equitable society and create leadership and economic opportunities for women and girls across the state. Through this organization, Foard has developed her understanding of complex social and political issues. This, coupled with likely several binge sessions of Law and Order and Criminal Minds, gave rise to her aspiration to achieve a career in the legal field as an appellate attorney.
Born and raised in Oak Cliff, Foard is a member of a local church, participates in debate and mock trial at her school, and says she discovered her natural proclivity to advocacy when she became the vice president of her school’s student government during her sophomore year. In addition to being gifted in interpersonal communication, Foard maintains a fierce passion for finding mutually beneficial solutions to complex problems and highlighting and celebrating diversity, particularly with regard to communities of color. As an incoming senior in high school, Foard has already had opportunities to exercise those passions, as she has worked to raise awareness for Asian Heritage Month and the rise of Black entrepreneurship. Da'Shayla is also working to gain support for comprehensive sex education, which she believes will lower Dallas’s teen pregnancy rate. She explains how she learned more about the realities of racism and sexism in her community and wanted to use her skills to reduce the influence of those harmful ideologies. Foard recalls experiencing firsthand the effects of inequitable resources and harmful rhetoric on her community. She hears of her friends who now have children of their own and maintains that if they had access to sex education, they would’ve understood how to have safe sex and prevent unwanted pregnancies. She has other friends who are upset and scared that they’ll go home and their parents, though documented, will have been detained by immigration authorities.
Da’Shayla’s beginnings in politics and continued aspiration to a legal career can be attributed to the Obama’s and, of course, her mother. Foard remembers her first exposure to politics in 2008, attending a watch party at her church on election night when Barack Obama’s election to the Oval Office made American history. She is also inspired by former first lady Michelle Obama, and draws motivation to attend a renowned law school from her autobiography Da’Shayla hopes to follow in Michelle Obama’s footsteps by changing the culture and status quo of the legal field. With those seeds planted, her mother’s constant support and teaching her valuable life lessons kept her grounded and focused on her purpose.
Da’Shayla’s goals for the long term include becoming an appellate attorney and using her leadership, knowledge and passion to advocate for all communities of color in every arena. She hopes to attend Spelman College, the nation’s oldest and best historically black liberal arts college for women, to study political science and business administration. From there, she hopes to obtain a J.D from either Southern Methodist University or Howard University, another of the nation’s oldest and best HBCU’s. It is no wonder that Foard’s experiences, ambition, and commitment will take her far in life and assist her in her advocacy for increased access to resources and education for marginalized communities. In the meantime, Da’Shayla wants to focus on finishing high school, liaising between her school’s students and administration, partaking in self care, and getting into her dream college on a full ride scholarship.