St. Mary’s Academy Junior Zumee Hasan was selected to speak at a TEDx Youth event. (Courtesy St. Mary’s Academy)
St. Mary’s Academy Junior Zumee Hasan was selected to speak at a TEDx Youth event. (Courtesy St. Mary’s Academy)
One hundred and sixty-seven students will graduate from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland June 5 at 2 p.m. at Marylhurst Commons. Ruby Lewis is valedictorian and Madison Stanford is salutatorian.

St. Mary’s Academy junior, Zumee Hasan, is a self-described “eternal optimist armed with empathy” who fills her free time with countless activities. In early 2020, as the pandemic was just becoming a reality, Hasan, along with another St. Mary’s student, founded the Portland Student Pandemic Response, an “online-based nonprofit aiming to create a place for local students to dedicate their extra energy and drive to the many local communities that are facing increasing issues through the pandemic.” At St. Mary’s, she founded and leads the SMA Muslim Student Association, participates in Women of Color in Action, Students of Color PDX, the Robotics team and is a Marian Singer. To top off the list, Hasan is the U.S. student advisor for Nourish Bangladesh, a non-government organization focused on raising awareness about the country’s experience with food insecurity and actively contributing to improving the well-being of its people.

Through these many experiences, Hasan became increasingly aware of what it means to be part of Gen Z, especially as a Muslim. She soon realized she had a story to tell and began to consider ways to share it. While scrolling through Instagram, Hasan came across an ad for TEDx Youth at Lincoln Street, a space for young people to “change the world with a single idea” and to share their voices. Hasan was selected to be a speaker at this year’s event.

Hasan says the process for preparing for the event has beensimilar to working on a paper for school, starting with an outline, then a rough draft followed by many rounds of editing. She gives thanks to both the team of TEDx advisors as well as her St. Mary’s Academy teachers for helping her get her talk polished and ready to deliver.

In her talk, Hasan challenges the characterization that Gen Z “cares too much.”

“We care because we have to,” she says. “Gen Z has been left with a world where we experience so much so early: school shootings, a health care crisis, economic insecurity…all before the age of prom.” She adds, “Deep in my heart I know things have to change, and I can be part of that change.”

Learn more

Watch Zumee Hasan of St. Mary’s Academy share her story at TEDx Youth at Lincoln Street on Friday, June 4 5 –7 p.m. at