Kipnusu was part of the YLI Class of 2020, but her mentor reached out to her this year and invited her to take part in an event that became one of her favorite high school experiences: planning a virtual visit with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Iowa native Nikole Hannah-Jones. It gave Kipnusu a chance to hear Hannah-Jones speak and connect with other students and adults who shared her interests.
Kipnusu has acted as a leader among Valley students engaged with equity work since her junior year, and Lange credits her with energizing her peers and bringing them together. Originally a student panelist for the Hannah-Jones event, Kipnusu recommended another Valley student for that role, choosing to stay behind the scenes. Lange says lifting up others is a hallmark of Kipnusu’s leadership style.
“Community is (something) she encourages,” Lange said. “She elevates other people’s thinking to make sure everybody gets heard.”
A Future Filled with Opportunity
Kipnusu says her ability to lead comes from her experiences as an athlete and from being the oldest of seven siblings.
“Not only did my leadership come from all of these activities, but also from at home,” she said. “All my siblings look up to what I do. Knowing that I’m involved in all of this stuff, my sister is way involved in this stuff too now. They had a huge impact and were motivation to continue doing what I’m doing.”
Her family is also her inspiration to remain ready for every opportunity she encounters.