2014 Tamera Larkins

When Tamera Larkin talks about her hopes to use her college education to bring theater to people and youth to whom it isn’t always accessible, you would never guess that Tamera’s own story would make for an inspirational play.

The antagonists in Tamera’s life were abuse and poverty and they showed up early and often. Tamera’s mom works hard to cobble together low wages from various jobs and benefits from work support programs to provide for Tamera and her sister. To get by, Tamera’s mom has skipped meals so Tamera and her sister could eat and when they couldn’t afford rent they stayed with family and friends.

Tamera’s father has been in and out of jail since she was born.  He was also abusive. As a young child Tamera repeatedly watched him beat her stepmother. When she tried to intervene, she ended up being a victim of his abuse as well. Tamera struggled with hate and anger from the abuse until sixth grade when she participated in a summer enrichment program called Learning Works at The Blake School. The program ignited Tamera’s passion for the arts and helped her to see her potential and abilities. As she started to recognize her dreams, her father ended up back in prison where he remains today.

When she reached high school, Tamera’s dreams became more of a reality as she immersed herself in rigorous academics, activities and community service at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. Despite continued economic instability at home resulting in Tamera living in at least 12 different places since her freshman year, she made herself known as a standout student and leader. She serves on the Minneapolis Student Council and is a co-founder of the Inclusivity Board. She is passionate about social justice and the arts and helped organize the Second Annual Twin Cities Social Justice Fair and is a founding member of the Southwest Spoken Word Club. Currently she is co-directing the performance of Dream Girls at her high school.

Like any true heroine, Tamera overcame great obstacles to become a strong leader with a desire to help others. Tamera said she wouldn’t be where she is today if it weren’t for Learning Works, caring teachers and, most importantly, her mother and grandfather. “I’ve faced and beat about every obstacle one could think of by learning to turn tragedy into opportunity,” she says. Tamera’s life’s play is not, yet, complete but the promise of a happy ending is looming.