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One of eight siblings, Belise Nishimwe was born and was raised in a refugee camp in Tanzania until age 5, when her parents - who are from Burundi - moved their family to America with the help of Catholic Charities. They faced many challenges because of their language barrier.
Now a U.S. citizen, Belise has carved out a platform to give voice to the perspectives of youth, immigrants and refugees. Belise is an active leader at her school, enrolling in
Advanced Placement classes and participating in the Black Student Union and other groups. Her consistent academic excellence and commitment fighting for justice and racial equality have won numerous awards, media recognition and local and national opportunities.
In 2019, Belise attended a prestigious six-week seminar on Black Feminist Thought at Cornell University. She is currently president of a vocal, youth-led, Portland-based nonprofit Youth Ending Slavery.