This past weekend was my third time attending the She’s the First Leadership Summit, but it was my first time attending as an alum and chapter mentor. And let me tell you, on the other side, it is a completely different experience.
Since first becoming involved with STF, I absolutely loved the idea of a campus chapter mentor program and I knew that I had to be a part of it when I graduated from Simmons College and passed the torch to other leaders. Sometime after I experienced this revelation, I attended my first STF Summit and was endlessly inspired by amazing speakers like Chernor Bah (Founder of the Children’s Forum Network), workshops with representatives from STF partner schools like Starfish in Guatemala, and new connections with students across the country (and the world, thanks to the STF scholars from Shanti Bhavan in India!).
But most of all, I was enthralled by the older (and wiser!) mentors who were helping to run the Summit and meeting with students to answer questions and, in my case, help me put an entire e-board together and start my chapter! I knew that I wanted to do that; help out, motivate, and mentor. And that’s what I did two years later at the 5th Annual STF Summit!
This year’s Summit was a truly magical weekend. From meeting Ann Shoket (former editor-and-chief of Seventeen Magazine) to feminist activist and storyteller Jamia Wilson giving a shout-out to oxytocin and validating the nerd in all of us, we were inspired and motivated to do good in our world. STF scholars Carlota from Guatemala and Angelica from Peru explained how they balance their thirst for education and the cultures they have grown up in. It was amazing to hear the confidence with which 16-year-old Carlota spoke. Even though she communicated exclusively in Spanish, I always knew the gist of what she was saying from the passion in her voice. And Angelica, taking on the monumental responsibility of translating for Carlota, did so with a grace and intelligence that was mesmerizing.
It was the first time that scholars from two different partner schools had been united at the Summit, emphasizing our mission of connecting communities, cultures, and ideas that span the globe. And this assembly of ideas also applied to us chapter mentors! We had plenty of opportunities to just sit and talk, and I can honestly say that I have never before experienced a conversation where so many people were equally passionate and utterly on the same page. We also had opportunities to network with representatives from STF partner schools, hearing from the founders and directors of programs like Starfish International in The Gambia and learning directly from the source how their girls are changing the world.
That is the magic of the STF Summit; different people from various places can come together, share their experiences, and work toward a goal of educating girls around the world. And I can’t wait to go back for more.