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Get to Know This Year’s Courage Fellows

Year after year, I am in awe of the courage young leaders demonstrate in the gun safety movement.

They have grown up witnessing and experiencing the devastating impact of gun violence—and the lack of action taken against it. Now, these young activists are standing up and demanding a safer future.

Giffords launched its Courage Fellowship program in 2018, seeking to empower young advocates and give them opportunities to fight for lifesaving gun safety laws. Years later, the Courage Fellowship has helped put students in the middle of critical conversations and encouraged them to speak out against the everyday gun violence tearing apart our communities.

There’s no question that gun violence is on the rise, and that many of our current leaders refuse to take action. At Giffords, we want to give the next generation of leaders the tools they need to fight for the safety of all Americans—and that starts here, with our Courage Fellows.

Peyton Arens

Peyton Arens became involved in gun violence prevention advocacy after attending the March For Our Lives in DC, and has since has been a chapter lead, state organizing director, and now a movement organizer with March For Our Lives.

Peyton has experience in both on-the-ground organizing as well as digital organizing, and is beyond excited to continue his work in gun violence prevention as a Courage Fellow. He believes America’s youth deserve a future free of gun violence, and has paid special attention to campaigns and bills aimed at mental health and commonsense reforms. He has also worked with his local school board and state board of education to keep guns out of schools, opposing a major resolution to arm school staff.

Beck Barrett

Beck Barrett has previously served as the communications director for a local chapter of March For Our Lives, and also founded a chapter at their high school. Beck believes that gun violence is a systemic issue that has taken and ruined too many lives, and that it is far past the time for change.

After witnessing gun violence impact people from all walks of life—but especially marginalized groups—Beck firmly believes in using their power and space to lift up the voices of others and advocate for change for those who can’t. They are also particularly interested in the intersection of disability and gun violence reform.

Alexandra Brkic

Growing up in a neighborhood plagued by gun violence, Alexandra Brkic became interested in sharing the perspectives of Latino people within the gun violence prevention movement, as their struggles are rarely acknowledged.

She is passionate about ensuring the safety of her community and expanding its political presence. Alexandra has completed work with San Antonio’s March For Our Lives, Not My Generation Inc, No Labels, MOVE Texas, and many political campaigns.

Ethan Gaskill

Ethan Gaskill is an activist and organizer from Mount Laurel, New Jersey. His first act of political engagement was encouraging his neighbors to vote in the 2008 election as a kindergartener, and he has been a passionate believer in the power of community organizing ever since.

Ethan is currently studying political science at American University and hopes to use the skills he gains as a Giffords Courage Fellow to help elect leaders who will take action and save lives through responsible gun safety legislation, while also preparing to pursue a career in the legal profession.

Jayanti Gupta

Jayanti Gupta is a high school senior based in Michigan who serves as a national movement organizer with March For Our Lives, after previously serving as the Michigan state director for nearly two years. As an intersectional organizer, she advocates for gun violence prevention through legislative action coupled with community-based work. She has organized numerous lobby days and consulted Governor Whitmer on gun violence prevention legislation. Jayanti also uplifts marginalized voices by increasing civic engagement amongst Asian-American Michiganders and speaking on panels with nonprofits like the National State Board of Education.

Her gun violence prevention work has been recognized nationally in the media by outlets like the Associated Press and Fox News, among many others. She was also recognized by the Brooklyn Kiwanis for her exemplary community service, was chosen as one of two Michigan student leaders for the prestigious United States Senate Youth Program, and was nominated by Senator Gary Peters for the United States Senate Page Program. In the future, Jayanti hopes to continue serving the community she calls home.

Rachel Hill

Rachel Hill is a current junior at the University of Colorado Boulder studying political science, math, and philosophy. She is from Littleton, Colorado, where she attended Columbine High School. She adores the Columbine community and became active in gun violence prevention nearly five years ago, when she was 16.

Since then, she has worked with Students Demand Action and March For Our Lives Colorado as the state coordinator, and has advocated for meaningful legislation at the state level, most notably for an extreme risk protection order. Since the Boulder King Soopers shooting, Rachel has turned her focus toward helping her community and enacting change at a local level.

Deepika Kannan

Deepika Kannan is an 18-year-old activist from Orlando, Florida. She is very involved in providing free computer science education for girls in her community. She has organized several workshops, events, and panels for young girls in her area to learn about technology and meet women in the STEM field.

She became interested in gun violence prevention advocacy after a shooting occurred at her school. Building on her prior experience working with youth in her community, she wants to create mental health programs at public schools. She is a rising freshman at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she plans on studying international affairs and computer science.

Amina Khalique

Amina Khalique is a senior at Wayne State University and a lifelong Detroiter. She is majoring in political science with a concentration in public policy. Amina is currently a policy and research associate at We the People Michigan, director of policy for Detroit Period Project, and serves as a Wayne State student senator.

In high school, she became involved in community organizing and advocacy by organizing a student walkout against gun violence in 2018, as well as a March For Our Lives rally in Detroit the same year. At a young age, Amina became empowered and inspired by young leaders and activists to create change within her own community. Since then, she has committed to fighting for marginalized and underrepresented communities and advocating for social justice issues, including gun violence prevention.

Tiana Lockett

Tiana Lockett is a grassroots organizer from Chicago, Illinois. She is a senior at Loyola Marymount University, where she is majoring in political science and double minoring in bioethics and philosophy. Since the age of 12, Tiana has been immersed in public service and has committed to raising awareness about her community’s most pressing issues.

After four consecutive community losses due to gun violence in 2016, Tiana vowed to prioritize gun violence prevention in her advocacy efforts. Through the Courage Fellowship, she aims to amplify the local message she has been organizing around for years on a national stage.

Faria Tavacoli

Faria Tavacoli was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is currently an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in public health. As an advocate for gender equality and social justice, Faria has been avid in her involvement with gun violence prevention and safety for BIPOC LGBTQIA+ youth in neighborhoods that offer inadequate resources and support.

Following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, she has been engaging and mobilizing youth across the community to support gun violence prevention legislation and policies. Faria vehemently believes that gun violence is a public health crisis that must be solved through inclusive research that considers a range of communities and people in connection to health policy.

Kaitlyn Tran

Kaitlyn Tran is an 18-year-old advocate from St. Louis, Missouri, who is passionate about amplifying young voices. Kaitlyn first became involved in the gun violence prevention movement after writing a cover story for her school’s newspaper, in which she interviewed the families of St. Louis children who died in a string of gun violence in the summer of 2019.

Kaitlyn has worked heavily in local and national AAPI advocacy spaces, including spearheading a collaboration to aggregate and publish self-reported anti-Asian hate incident data, and she hopes to advocate for stronger gun violence prevention legislation around hate-motivated violence. Through Giffords, she is excited to learn from and advocate alongside her peers to support the safety and wellbeing of their communities.

Jennifer Vo

Jennifer Vo is a 17-year-old activist from Gilbert, Arizona. Jennifer got involved in the fight against gun violence in 8th grade after countless friends and family members experienced school lockdowns because of shooting and gun threats. The realization that she could lose a loved one in seconds has fueled her passion for working toward a safer country.

She believes that gun violence is an intersectional issue and works to hold conversations highlighting the voices of community leaders and members, including an AZMFOL Racial Injustice town hall, an Intersectionality Between the LGBTQ+ Community and Gun Violence town hall, a Black Lives Matter and the Equal Rights Amendment panel, and more. Jennifer is currently the Southwest regional director of Generation Ratify, a nationally ranked debater, and the former special events director of March For Our Lives Arizona.

Grace Wankelman

Grace Wankelman is from Fort Collins, Colorado, and is a student at the University of Denver studying political science and international studies. She has been passionate about violence prevention for many years, and has been involved in gun violence prevention advocacy since working with March For Our Lives following the Parkland shooting.

Grace has also been an advocate for suicide prevention and gender-based violence prevention, and is the co-founder of a nonprofit that works to prevent sexual violence in higher education. She is graduating from the University of Denver this June and will be attending the London School of Economics in the fall to pursue a Master’s in gender, peace, and security.

Austen Wyche

Austen Wyche is a young activist from Madison, Alabama. He serves as the co-director of advocacy for the algorithmic justice-oriented organization Encode Justice, the founder of the Teen View blog, a member of the Institute of Youth in Policy, a former national director of Students Against Voter Suppression, and the president of his school’s Young Advocates for Equality.

Austen became involved in politics at a young age as an advocate for causes such as gun safety, LGBTQ+ equality, racial justice, and voting rights, and he worked on many local, state, and federal campaigns for candidates who uphold values and policies that protect Americans. Austen aims to learn more about the gun safety movement and how to protect residents all around the world from the dangers of gun violence.

Jett Young

Jett Young is a third-year political science and sociology double major at Miami University in Ohio. In high school, he organized a local March For Our Lives demonstration, and credits this experience as the catalyst for his educational and career aspirations.

Since this demonstration, he has realized that gun violence in America must be met with a strong multifaceted approach that addresses radicalization, racial animosity, and corporate interests. In college, Jett continues to be a gun violence prevention activist by volunteering for political candidates who support comprehensive gun safety laws. In the future, he hopes to work in the gun violence prevention and education nonprofit space.


The gun safety movement is on the march: Americans from different background are united in standing up for safer schools and communities. Join us to make your voice heard and power our next wave of victories.