Contributed by: Bridget Kelly, Youth Advisory Board Secretary
My experience with the Girls Empowerment Network is a little different than other GEN girls I know.
It all started in at the end of eleventh grade when I was looking for something fun, but educational and productive to fill my summer with. My school counselor sent out an email for something called “Pathfinder Leadership Summit.” It detailed a week of learning self-confidence, self-love, and of course, leadership for girls in or entering high school. I signed myself up for the camp because didn’t have a lot of these skills, and as a soon-to-be college student, I wanted to prepare myself for future job interviews, internships, and networking.
When I walked into the GEN building on the first day, I was a little intimidated. In one of our first icebreakers, I learned that a lot of the girls around me had done clubGEN in their middle school, or campGEN over the summer when they were younger, whereas I had only be involved with GEN for a few hours. While this was a little intimidating, I soon realized that none of this mattered, because us Pathfinder girls were soon to become one big family that I still keep in touch with. Even though the summit was only a week long, I learned so many valuable lessons in confidence, self-love, how to present myself effectively to others, and even got the opportunity to meet so many amazing women in panels and mini-networking sessions. It was also how I got even further involved with GEN. I signed up to be a camp counselor for two campGEN sessions later in the summer and I applied to be on the Youth Advisory Board, an opportunity for girls and young women ages 15-24 to advocate for girls in their community.
My experience with the GEN was invaluable, and as I head off to college this fall, I will use the interview skills Pathfinder taught me as I search for internships and the advocacy and leadership skills the Youth Advisory Board showed me as I join clubs that push for racial, LGBTQIA+, and gender equality on campus and in my community.