How a Gables Alumna Found her Passion for Politics

At Gables, Nikita Leus-Oliva was president and founder of PACE, the political activism and civic engagement club, treasurer of student government and an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate. Like a walk down memory lane, Nikita recalls the admiration she felt for her teachers like Mrs. Landsea and Mrs. Suarez, discussing how their support allowed her to flourish, as well as the diverse social climate that allowed her to garner more information on her growing purpose in life—politics.

Leus-Oliva working for the Hilary Clinton campaign in South Florida 

“I took a business class with Mrs. B and she’d always show us CNN 10 as a way to start our days…[It was very unfamiliar] since both of my parents are immigrants and never really spoke about American politics…[As a freshman] I started hearing about the 2016 election and how different the candidates were and what they stood for…so I went home one day and researched them and understood what they believed the future of America should be,” alumna Nikita Leus-Oliva said.

The 2016 election was one like none other, with the first woman as the Democratic Presidential candidate and a New York businessman as the Republican Presidential candidate. As Nikita familiarized herself with their stances, her decision was made and she knew she had to do something to help out. “Donald Trump called people like my parent’s awful things, like drug dealers and criminals, and both of them are small business owners who try to give back to the community that gave them so much,” Leus-Oliva explained. She noted that all politicians have flaws, but Hillary Clinton was an inspiration to her and so many other girls with a vision for an inclusive America. After volunteering for a few days, she had already been awarded a fellowship for the Hillary Clinton Campaign by the local campaign organizer here in South Florida, working 50+ hours a week, and hosting various phone banking sessions “[breaking] records for the most amount of voters reached in our region.”

Hillary Clinton’s ultimate defeat did not stop Leus-Oliva; in fact, it just made her work harder. Throughout her last two years of high school, she founded the Miami-Dade Teen Democrats and the Young Leaders Summit, for fellow like-minded students here in South Florida to receive opportunities in the political sphere and continued campaigning because she knew “…[even though] I could not vote yet, I could still yield political power.”

She stood by her truth and did just that. After the horrific shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, she was compelled to organize a peaceful protest in solidarity. It was a wake-up call for the entire United States as it furthered the necessity of better gun safety regulations at the state and national level. Leus-Oliva managed to enlist almost the entire school to participate in a smoothly conducted walkout to the pavilion with posters and speakers, highlighting that no person should ever have to endure such an atrocity. After doing this at Gables, she went on to speak at an even larger protest in Miami Beach, rallying behind fellow high schoolers and March for Our Lives.

Nikita and her fellow Gables classmates protesting for more gun regulation.

Her power to move mountains in civic engagement caused her to become the 2019 Silver Knight Recipient in the Social Studies category. For those who might not know, this is a prestigious award offered to many high school students in Miami-Dade County who have shown leadership, service, and trailblazing. Moreover, she became a finalist for the Questbridge scholarship to attend Columbia University to continue on her work in a different scene.

This Gables alumna never fails to amaze us and will always be a Cav at heart!