I recently started a chapter of the organization She’s the First at Simmons College and it has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me! I have wanted to share my thoughts about STF, and I thought that doing so through the lens of my experience at the 3rd Annual She’s the First Leadership Summit would be a good way to start.
That morning one hundred heavy-eyed student leaders filed into the meeting area we would enter countless times that weekend, tea and coffee in hand. While we were functioning on very little sleep and a mere handful of scrambled eggs for breakfast, we were so excited that the room vibrated with anticipation that was continuous, regardless of how tired we were. I was on the edge of my seat, attempting to distract myself by making conversation with some friends I had made in the short time we had been in New York City. My notebook, open on my lap, was anxiously awaiting the new batch of notes I would soon be inscribing inside of it. No more than a few feet away from me were two girls. Meeting these two girls would forever change the way that I look at myself and the world.
In early August I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 3rd Annual She’s the First Summit, a conference in New York City that gives student leaders like myself the tools, motivation, and inspiration to use our voices at our collective campuses and raise awareness and money to sponsor the education of girls in developing nations. That weekend I was able to meet and interact with two girls from one of our partner schools, Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in India, who were sponsored by She’s the First campus chapters and were thus able to graduate high school and begin attending prestigious colleges in India. Maheshwari and Prathibha presented their stories of tutelage despite discriminatory and derisive beliefs about girls’ education in their culture. They were able to accomplish their goals and begin their journey toward empowerment, not only because of the people at Shanti Bhavan willing to generously offer the time and the effort to teach these girls, but also because of the founders of She’s the First and the students working so hard to raise the money to sponsor the education of these girls.
It has been a difficult journey starting a chapter of She’s the First at Simmons College. I encountered more than my fair share of red tape, complications, and rejections that sent my confidence plummeting. On many occasions, I wanted to simply give up; move on with college without the trouble of running an organization. But this summer, I decided to attend the She’s the First Leadership Summit. And on that very first day when we were all tingling with a contagious excitement and I met Maheshwari and Prathibha, I knew that all of the hard work, sleepless nights, and denunciations were worth it. The hundred student leaders in that room had made it possible for these two girls to avoid early marriage, premature pregnancy, and a life of poverty through education. And that gives me the courage to not only continue on with this organization, but to continue on with my education, be a woman in a STEM field, and do my best to change the world.
Thank you, She’s the First!