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Standout Spartan: Mikal Banks '23

The Steward School
New opportunities in a unique forum
Each year, The Richmond Forum invites some of the most influential names in the world to take the stage for talks at the Altria Theater. In 2021, Mikal Banks ’23 attended her first Forum, held virtually, which featured Spanish-American chef and founder of World Central Kitchen José Andrés. Mikal was captivated. 

Inspired, she applied to be selected as a 2022 Richmond Forum Scholar. Each year, five high-school juniors serve as Scholars, interacting with national and international speakers and sharpening their communication and networking skills. Mikal submitted a résumé, letter of recommendation, and a video detailing her interest in an upcoming Forum speaker.

“In my video, I talked about my desire to use my voice to advocate for myself and for others — a desire I share with Grammy Award-winning singer Rhiannon Giddens,” she explained. After being selected as a finalist and interviewing with the Richmond Forum Scholar Board, Mikal was thrilled to be named a 2022 Scholar.

At her first Forum, which featured former CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger, Mikal served as the lead Scholar. She staffed the VIP speaker reception, greeted sponsor guests, and introduced Mr. Iger to the hundreds of area students who attended the Forum in its special Student Room. Although she was nervous at first, “engaging with Mr. Iger was an experience I will never forget,” she said. “He listened intently to my interests and future plans and taught me valuable lessons about leadership.”

The next Forum featured journalist and social-political activist Gloria Steinem.

“Meeting people such as Gloria Steinem — someone who has broken boundaries — inspires me to continue working to leave my unique impact on the world,” said Mikal. 

At Steward, Mikal serves as an editor for the yearbook staff, is a member of the Diversity Club, and is president and co-founder of the school’s Health Occupations Students of America chapter. She is also a member of Steward Ink, Model UN, the Entrepreneurship program, and the Prom Committee. 

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