Alumni Spotlight!

Here at OMI, we are delighted to extend our congratulations to OMI alumna Nairobi Barnes, who has been selected as the 2023 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. Nairobi's remarkable talent and unwavering dedication to the art of poetry have earned her this prestigious recognition. Among a pool of six other Finalists, Nairobi stood out and was awarded a $5,000 college scholarship generously provided by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library.


During a captivating event attended by a full house, District 4 Council member Janani Ramachandran had the honor of announcing Nairobi as the recipient of this esteemed award. This achievement holds immense significance for Nairobi as it grants her the opportunity to represent the Oakland community through her poetic expressions, media engagements, and public appearances.


Beyond her newly acquired title of the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, Nairobi has already accomplished much in her young career. She was recognized with the Superior and Impressive Writing Chops award at our school, showcasing her exceptional writing abilities. Her thought-provoking op-ed pieces on topics such as body discrimination against Black women and the challenges posed by colorism and natural hair discrimination have been published in renowned platforms like Teen Vogue. Additionally, her poetic work has been featured in the 2016 book "Accomplished," a collection of poems published by The American Library of Poetry.


Nairobi proudly identifies herself as a poet, artist, and activist. She has harnessed her creative prowess to create educational videos and draft press releases as a student journalist, focusing on crucial subjects like voting rights, discrimination against Black women, and the cultural significance of Black hair. Nairobi believes that poetry transcends mere words and emotions, encompassing a sense of community and a medium to express love and compassion towards oneself and others. Her deep connection to the art form has consistently guided her throughout her personal and professional journeys, with poetry serving as her faithful companion.


In Nairobi's own words, she recognizes that poetry holds far more significance than the individual speaker or any poet who came before her. It encapsulates the spirit of the Oakland community she proudly calls home, the unconditional support from her mother, and the love she shares with others. Nairobi embraces her role as the 2023 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate with a commitment to spreading the transformative power of poetry, accompanied by a resolute determination to lead with fulfillment and courage. Collaborating with the Oakland Public Library, she aims to share the beauty and love inherent in poetry with a wide audience.


OMI takes great pride in witnessing Nairobi's exceptional growth and achievements. We celebrate her well-deserved recognition as the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and eagerly anticipate the positive impact she will make through her words and leadership.


We are OMI!