Uma Menon is an 18-year-old student, author, and human rights advocate from Winter Park, Florida.
Her acclaimed writing has been nominated thrice for the Pushcart Prize and appeared in over three dozen different publications, including The Huffington Post, The Progressive, The Rumpus, and Orlando Sentinel. She has also received the 2019 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award from the Florida State Poets Association and is a 2020-2021 National YoungArts Winner in Writing. Her debut poetry book, Hands for Language, was shortlisted by the 2019 International Erbacce-Prize and was published by Mawenzi House in 2020. Her debut children’s books are forthcoming from Candlewick Press in fall 2023 and 2024.
As a social justice advocate, Uma is engaged in issues such as educational accessibility, violence prevention, net neutrality, and representation of marginalized communities. She is a 2020-2021 Encore Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project, advocating for intergenerational social justice and representation.
Uma was the 2019-2020 Youth Fellow for the International Human Rights Art Festival (IHRAF), through which she worked to amplify youth voices in social justice discourse. She started, edited, and produced IHRAF’s 2020 Anthology of Youth Creativity on Human Rights & Social Justice, featuring youth art and writing by youth from three different continents, eight different countries, and several states across the US.
Uma was invited to the 2019 State of the Union by US Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy in recognition of her writing on youth activism, making her one of the youngest guests in the event’s history. She was also selected to the 2020 US Senate Youth Program, where she served as one of two Youth Senators from each state. Uma was named by Kudumbam Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Women of Malayali Origin in 2018.
Uma graduated from Winter Park High School as a Valedictorian and International Baccalaureate Diploma Recipient in May 2020 and currently attends Princeton University, where she studies in the Princeton School of Public & International Affairs.