UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — Naudia Loftis, a junior at John Carroll University, said activism is in her blood.
"My grandfather was a community activist,” said Loftis.
Three years ago, Loftis led marches through Cleveland streets in hopes of stopping violence. Many across Cleveland followed her lead.
Loftis now lives about 15 minutes from home, but in some ways, she feels a world away.
"I really want to serve my community, specifically by giving them things I didn't have while growing up," said Loftis.
Loftis grew up in a home on Kinsmen Road. She said she saw homelessness, poverty, and violence.
"It's the 10-year anniversary of when I lost my cousin, so I will be doing another march in September for that,” said Loftis.
All of it moves Loftis, and she says it's catching on at John Carroll.
"Recently, the class that came in had a lot more students of color than my class did, and I really loved that. Also, with the campus, there has been an increase as well."
She is majoring in communications, and hopes she can use that education to communicate a message of change. Her efforts have earned her national praise. A plaque is her initiation into the Newman Civic Fellowship, a prestigious and exclusive opportunity.
"I’ve started doing more research around social justice,” said Loftis.
In November, Loftis will travel to Boston. She and another 260 students will share plans to change the world.
"If I’m not doing anything, then I’m not fulfilling my purpose,” said Loftis.
Her plan includes pushing for better on campus. She wants to return to her roots, and open a community center, along this path, on kinsmen. A space that offers training for jobs, tutoring, and arts.
"No justice, no peace. Fight for what you believe in,” said Loftis.