Tenisha Callender was born in the Caribbean on an island named Trinidad. At the age of six , she came to America with her older sister in hopes of a better life. That wish, though not readily accessed by others, was available to her. Though an immigrant, Tenisha tested for and got admissions to many schools with advanced programs, such as The Farragut School, The Timilty School, North Andover Academy and eventually Boston Latin School. She comes from a small one parent family and is the middle child to an older sister and a younger brother. ‘Being the squeezed one,’ she says, ‘always taught me to fight hard for what Iwanted because there was a good chance that I would get over looked.’ This hard work ethic has lead her college search to many rigorous schools such as Cornell, New York University and Loyola.
Fighting for beliefs seems to be Tenisha’s motto. Beginning in the seventh grade, Tenisha became involved in Community service work and politics. She first worked in a service job, cleaning streets and building houses with City Year’s Young Heroes. This form of community service went on for the better part of three years. Becoming an alumni of Young Heroes didn’t stop her from moving on to work with City Year itself. For the next year, Tenisha worked as a coordinator at City Year Boston, even becoming a head woman for the City Year City Serve group in Chinatown.
From there, service work was pushed aside for advocacy in Sisters Against Teen Violence, then Boston Youth Organizing Project, which has been her focus for going on a year. Teaching others that they have rights and that their voices must be heard by the people that represent them has been a large driving force for Tenisha. She says ‘It angered me to no end when I was facilitating a meeting and I said ‘All power is in numbers. If you want it fixed, then it is very possible that others want it too. Combine your powers,’ and a little black boy from Hyde Park responded to me ‘They don’t care. Look how long we’ve needed new books at my school. What’s my one voice gonna do?’ Tenisha says that this is a strong reason why she applied for the Ward Fellowship. I wanted to see how<br> it worked on the inside. I wanted to be able to tell those children and adults that I form alliances with that their voices are being heard. And if they weren’t being heard, how to get them heard.
Tenisha’s Sponsor is Federal Judge Patti Saris.