Marching for Change

By Maya Lubarsky

Marching for Change

By Maya Lubarsky
University of Miami students helped organize and participated in the March for Our Lives demonstration Saturday on Miami Beach.

My name is Maya Lubarsky and I am a senior at the University of Miami, but I am also a 2014 alumna of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In the wake of the shooting at my high school, I felt shaken and broken. It did not hit me at first what occurred in my high school, my home. I felt numb, but when I began watching the videos from the students who went through the shooting, I could not stop crying. Those classes were my home. I remember every teacher and class. I loved learning at Stoneman Douglas and loved the friends that I made there. To think that the students at MSD now would not have the same experience is wrong.

When I first heard about the March for Our Lives, I wanted to go to D.C., but Makayla Manning brought up the idea of having a march in Miami. When I realized that I would not be able to attend the march in D.C., I also realized that thousands in South Florida would also probably be unable to attend. I decided that there needed to then be a March for Our Lives in Miami so that those who want to show their support and lend their voices to the cause could. This cause is personal to me, but it is also a cause by the youth of our country to honor lives lost in all forms of gun violence. I wanted to provide a platform for people to speak and march, and to show the students from my high school that Miami stands with them.

UM senior Maya Lubarsky (left) and UM freshman Raven Bedford

UM Senior Maya Lubkarsky and UM freshman Raven Bedford speak at Saturday's march in Miami Beach.

We created a Facebook event and it immediately took off. We had the City of Miami Beach and Dan Gelber, the mayor of Miami Beach, supporting us. We had amazing people from around the country offer their support, advice, and time to organize the march. 

The organizing and planning of this march was crazy. It was one of the hardest and most time intensive things I have ever done. I am a full time student, I am in the process of applying for medical school, and I work four part time jobs. This became a full time commitment. For the past month I barely slept, answering sometimes upwards of 50 emails and phone calls a day, organizing and planning among people, and working hard to get the word out about the march. And I regret none of it. This march taught me how to be a better leader, a better speaker, and a better organizer. I have met amazing people and made amazing friends, all while furthering a worthwhile cause I am passionate about. 

Students at March for Our LivesMakayla Manning, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas alumna and University of Miami freshman, helped organize a March of Our Lives protest on Miami Beach. Read her story.

The day of the march was one I will never forget. We organizers woke up around 4 a.m. to leave the University of Miami at 5:30 a.m. We arrived at the march and it was nonstop setup, speaking, organizing, and moving. Marching alongside our elected officials and my peers who helped me organize this was the most rewarding feeling. Speaking before almost 5,000 people who came to show their respect for my high school and support this cause was inspiring and I will never forget it. Before I went on stage, I was nervous. But as soon as I stood on stage, the nerves went away, because I knew that everyone in the crowd was there for a reason, to fight for gun control. The march went smoothly and so many people attended. Nationally, some of my best friends were attending or planning marches of their own. It was a uniting and amazing experience. 

While this was all brought about by tragedy, I hope that these marches lead to change. Change may not occur today or tomorrow, but by speaking up and standing up we have shown our elected officials that they are here to represent their constituents, not their pockets. As the NRA spews lies and twists the words of teenagers and young adults, we continue to stand not for ourselves, but for the lives of our peers and community members.

I marched because my little sister is in middle school, and she deserves to go to school excited to learn, not afraid of never returning home. I marched because I don't ever want someone to march again in honor of a life lost. There should be no more lives lost. I marched to tell my representatives that if they don't fight to protect us, we will vote them out. 

I want to thank everyone who came out and the University of Miami for their amazing support.

Maya Lubarsky is a senior neuroscience major at the University of Miami and a 2014 alumna of Stoneman Douglas. She hopes to attend medical school and become a doctor.