Changemaker of the Week: Makana Tavares '17

December 1, 2014

Makana Tavares '17 interned at AS220 Youth this summer, where she helped managed a youth employment program.

Q: How have you been involved as a changemaker during your time at Brown?
A: I spent 10 weeks this summer at AS220 Youth, which is one branch of an insanely dynamic local non-profit dedicated to providing access to free art in Providence. Check them out! Lots of the kids who go to AS220 come from impoverished backgrounds, have been through foster care, and/or have been to the Rhode Island Training School, the only juvenile correction center in the state. Not to mention they’re all super passionate and majorly artistically inclined. AS220 is able to employ about 50 of them each summer in their studio at 115 Empire Street doing things like photography, murals, apparel design, musical performance, communications work, and book publishing. I helped orchestrate the employment program and got to be a part of the whole messy process of making sure programs are in line with the documentary requirements set by the joint federal and state agencies funding them. Now I'm working with another intern to wrap up a publication that will be a kind of retrospective of all the work the youth did over the summer.

Q: What is the most important lesson you've learned since starting this work?
A: That collaboration and communication are absolutely key! When you're working with different agencies or actors people can easily do things according to their own agendas and specific goals, losing sight of broader views. It's important to always be cognizant of your role in the context of a larger whole.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a "changemaker"? 
A: Find something that lights your fire, get involved, and don't be surprised when things look different from the inside. Adaptability is huge.

Q: What is your personal mission statement?
A: Ma ka hana ka 'ike. It's a Hawaiian proverb that means 'in working one learns'. I'm hands-on by nature and try to avoid getting caught up in talking a lot because by the time we're done talking ourselves in circles we realize all these opportunities for doing have wandered by.

Q: What's one interesting fact people might not know about you?
A: I read The Life of Pi when I was 8 or 9... It's still one of my favorite books.

If you know a Brown student or alum who is making a difference on campus, in Providence, or around the world, nominate them here to see them featured as Changemaker of the Week.