The KPMG Future Leaders Program, funded by net proceeds from the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, awards top female high school seniors across the country the opportunity to enhance their personal growth through college scholarships, ongoing leadership development and support, mentorship from woman business leaders, and an introduction to golf.

Since the program’s inception in 2016, $3.54M in scholarships has been awarded to 122 KPMG Future Leaders recipients. Many of these bright women leaders are making a difference in their own local communities and we wanted to highlight one of their incredible stories.

Kiara ‘Kiki’ Gilbert

Kiara 'Kiki' Gilbert is a difference maker. At every stop along the way of her remarkable journey, Gilbert, a member of the KPMG Future Leaders Class of 2017 and recent Princeton graduate, has continued to make a profound impact on the lives of her fellow students and members of her communities.

It started back in Charlotte, when Gilbert, a low-income, housing-displaced high school student, walked into Myers Park High School, quickly realizing that she was the only Black and low-income student in her classes. She began to question why other students with similar backgrounds didn’t have the same access to the resources she did. “It was frustrating that I seemed to be the only one who had penetrated this circle of more academically-diverse courses,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert sprang into action implementing new ideas at her high school, including as founder of a ‘Domestic Exchange Program’, matching high achieving ESL students with mentors in higher level classes, and also leading  diversity panels with students, teachers, and administrators to discuss more educational opportunities for low-income students.  

After high school, Gilbert studied at Princeton University, which provided her with a world of new opportunities, including traveling internationally and meeting other like-minded individuals from all over the world. It was a major change of environment from Gilbert’s living situation back home, and throughout her college experience, she has made it a point of emphasis not to lose perspective of where she came from.

“Something I often talk about with my other peers is feeling a lot of guilt for having been able to move on to a better situation,” Gilbert said. “I always remember that I’m taking advantage of all these opportunities so I can go back and make a difference in the lives of those who weren’t able to have the same kind of opportunities I did,” Gilbert explained.

As a result, she has remained passionately committed to giving back, including at Princeton as past co-president of Students for ‘Prison Education, Abolition and Reform’, where her organization taught philosophy to incarcerated individuals. She was also co-president of Princeton’s First-Generation Low-Income Council and co-chaired the ‘2019 1vyG Conference’, which gathered hundreds of first-generation, low-income students from across the country at Princeton.

Now as a Princeton graduate, Gilbert’s journey will take her across the pond to the U.K., where she will continue her education at Cambridge, before moving on to the School of African Studies at the University of London as a Marshall Scholar. Gilbert is hoping to take full advantage of the opportunities she has been afforded to create her own page in the history books.

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