SHORELINE, Wash. — As she walked into her AP Statistics class at Shorecrest High School, Mawahib Ismail understood that the probability of experiencing racism in her life was high.
In fact, she already has, while visiting the public library.
"Me and my mom got called slurs as we were driving away," she said.
Ismail is the daughter of Somali immigrants. She said the bigotry they have experienced in this country inspired her to push back.
"This isn't about me," she said. "It's about the younger people coming up not having to experience that. There are going to have to be people who are willing to be knocked down a few times so other people can just walk the road. I'm willing to be knocked down."
She's done that by confronting racism in her community head-on.
Ismail organized Shorecrest's Annual MLK assembly. She's led difficult discussions between black students and local police, mentors younger students of color and has led race and equity forums in the Shoreline School District.
The 17-year-old senior has also grown her school's Black Student Union from five members to nearly 50.
Ismail's goal is simply to encourage people to have the tough conversations about what it's like to a minority in today's America.
"I feel like you can't get comfortable with equity until you get uncomfortable," she said. "A lot more students are now more open to listening to other perspectives."
Ismail has recently been honored by Princeton University her work. The university honored just 27 students from across the country who have done work to improve race relations in America. Ismail will travel to Princeton later this month to accept a $1,000 check for her work.
She has already committed to the University of Washington where she said she plans to study social sciences in the fall.
As she crunched numbers in her statistics class, Ismail saw an improved probability that racism in this country can be eradicated.
"To see kids who wouldn't normally hang out at school getting together to talk about big topics like this has been really impactful to see. People are starting to get it a little bit."