Zoë Jenkins is an 18-year-old reimagining education and empathy. Zoë was raised two generations removed from sharecropping and knows the importance of equitable access to education firsthand.
Zoë joined the Kentucky Student Voice Team in eighth grade after witnessing disparities in education access at her middle school which prioritized the performance of out-of-district gifted students over the well-being of their disadvantaged students. Throughout high school, Zoë traveled across Kentucky — facilitating roundtables and workshops with thousands of students around school climate, student voice in decision-making, and their dreams after high school. She also traveled around the country sharing student-led research to education policymakers.
After experiencing pushback from her high school to prioritize emotional and mental wellbeing after school shootings in Kentucky and Florida and the subsequent push to harden schools, Zoë engaged in Civics Unplugged's inaugural fellowship where she found her "you-shaped hole" — powering stakeholder and empathy-driven education. After graduating, she was elected to the inaugural Civics 2030 Steering Committee as the Chair.
When Zoë reported the escalation of racist micro-aggressions in her high school STEM program, she was met with an apathetic response, she founded DICCE, an organization empowering an empathy-driven generation through inclusion and anti-racist curriculum and resources. Through DICCE, Zoë has facilitated workshops with Stanford University's d.school, The Nobel Prize Summit, and many youth-centered organizations.
After the onset of COVID-19, Zoë decided to leave high school and pursue an untraditional senior year expanding DICCE, empowering kids with Civics Unplugged, and researching the effects of the pandemic on students with Kentucky Student Voice Team. During her “gap year” she was selected as an Aerie 2021 Changemaker and highlighted in The Washington Post’s Post Reports and NPR’s All Things Considered.
Zoë is a second-year Echols and Ridley Scholar at the University of Virginia where she is pursuing studies in Economics and Youth and Social Innovation.