Meet Our Spring 2017 GENterns! | Girls Empowerment Network

The Spring is in full effect as we are getting ready for our Girl Advocacy Day and We Are Girls Conference in Houston. Our Spring 2017 interns, or GENterns, have been working hard for the past month and it’s time to introduce them all! In their GENterviews, they were asked questions varying from why they feel passionate about GEN to what celebrity they would like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee.

 

Teresa Reyes – Communications Intern

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I’m a Senior Public Relations major at UT and from Grand Prairie, Texas, right outside of Dallas. I consider myself a social media junkie but I also want to go to Law School. I love playing the ukulele and people tend to ask why I’m always smiling.

 

Why do you feel passionate about GEN?

I think it’s amazing that GEN serves as a support system that many girls I can relate to don’t have. Growing up, my mom was, and still is my role model, but the cultural and language barriers limited her ability to help me.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge girls are facing today?

The ideal body image. I completely disagree with the ideal body image, it’s not achievable and girls are doing unhealthy things to try to reach that image. I think the media plays a huge role in this image and they chose to be blind to the fact that it’s causing eating disorders among a vulnerable market, teenagers.

 

If you could tell your middle-school self anything, what would it be?

Stop the bad eating habits and don’t worry about your physical appearance because no, you’re not “big.” You keep thinking that about yourself but you will look back a couple of years from now and see that you were wrong.

 

When do you feel the most confident and why?

When my eyebrows are perfect and my hair looks decent. I used to judge girls that wore “a lot” of makeup, but now I get it and I know I was wrong. I love it and I love the boost of confidence it gives you and how it can transform people. It’s an art and I’ve learned to appreciate it.

 

If you could have dinner with 3 people, dead or living, who would they be and why?

Selena Quintanilla for sure. I love her, I love that she embraced both the Mexican and the American culture and she is the queen of Tex-Mex which is why when the MAC Selena makeup line came out, I went on a scavenger hunt to find it. Second, my grandma from my dad’s side just because I’ve heard so many great things about her. Last, Michelle Obama because who wouldn’t want to have dinner with her?

 

Brook Chambers – Direct Service Intern

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I’m a Senior Social Work major at UT and I’m an Austinite! I plan on getting my masters in social work and then working towards becoming a licensed clinical social worker. I love riding my bike and I love the tofu pad thai at Thai Fresh. SO GOOD.

 

Why do you feel passionate about GEN?

Over the course of my studies at the UT School of Social Work, I intensely identified both with the women in my classes and in my textbooks. I felt a transcendental draw to their differing stories and histories–activating an interest in the injustices faced by women across the world. I want all women feel empowered by their inherent worth, strength and power and to feel validated in the challenges and obstacles thrown at them by unforgiving and unrelenting societal norms. Our girls and young women are not immune to these challenges–if anything they are impacted more intensely. My passion for GEN lies in their mission to “support and guide girls to make wise choices as they navigate the unique pressures of girlhood.” We are not here to judge or tell girls how to live their lives. We are here to listen, validate, empower, and provide tools to help them succeed in their own goals and passions. I think that is a beautiful thing.

 

What’s your biggest motivation?

My biggest motivation is the connection that I feel with all women- past, present and future. In the face of challenges and setbacks, women have inspired, innovated, advocated, mediated, educated, and empowered each other and those who love us to work for justice. The knowledge of the incredible sacrifices women have made, are making and will continue to make to provide me and future generations of women with a better future is more than enough to keep me going.

 

If you could tell your middle-school self anything, what would it be?

I would tell her to relax! And to have confidence in herself and not worry so much about what other people think. I had a tendency to be very hard on myself and discount my skills and achievements both internally and to others. Looking back, I certainly think a group like GEN could have helped me to work through that.

 

When do you feel the most confident and why?

I feel the most confident when I am on my bike. It may sound cheesy, but I feel like anything is possible when I am riding my bike– I can go anywhere, do anything, gain a new perspective, all the while being powered by my own two legs.

 

Lindsay Luongo – Direct Service Intern

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I’m a Social Work student at Texas State University from Basking Ridge, New Jersey. I love going on hikes, gardening and who doesn’t love going to concerts? My friends would describe me as friendly, caring and open-minded.

 

Why do you feel passionate about GEN?

GEN’s value’s resonate deeply with my own. I feel that at GEN, everyone is able to be the best of themselves because of those core values each member exudes. The organization has succeeded in bringing inclusion and equality into their program, and office.  GEN has developed a uniquely warm, open environment for both women and girls to embrace their identity.  

 

What’s your biggest motivation?

My biggest motivation stems from the girls I worked with at a homeless coalition in upstate New York.  The transition I watched each individual go through as they came into their unique identities was truly incredible, and something I hope to see in the future.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge girls are facing today?

With the technology boom, girls are seeing so many images of the “ideal woman.”  I believe the biggest challenge is to accept the image you see in the mirror without trying to alter it to fit what you see in the media.

 

If you could tell your middle-school self anything, what would it be?

Embrace who you are rather than please who everyone else expects you to be.

 

If you were an animal, what would you be? Why?

A hummingbird, because though they’re small, they’re full of strength and are able to see the world from a different perspective.

 

If money didn’t exist, what would you do all day?

Build a humongous urban community garden in cities around the world with fruits, vegetables, a greenhouse, chicken coop, and bee hive open to the public.  

 

Jordan Watts – Fundraising Intern

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I’m a sophomore Social Work major at St. Edward’s University and I’m from Austin! I love going to concerts, I’ve met so many friends that I still talk to all the time through concerts. I’m always so cheerful and I hate being bored so I’m always going on adventures!

 

Why do you feel passionate about GEN?

I feel passionate about GEN because I understand the difficulties of being a girl and young adult. GEN offers so many opportunities to enrich young girls and help them find their way through the craziness of middle school and high school.

 

What’s your biggest motivation?

One of my biggest motivations is knowing that I am helping others. Not only as an intern at GEN, but as a Social Work major, and even in my personal life. When I know that I will be providing a service to make the lives of others easier, better, etc., it reminds me of my purpose in life.

 

If you could tell your middle-school self anything, what would it be?

I would tell my middle school self to stop trying to hide who you really are. I definitely watered down my personality a lot in hopes that the “popular” girls would like me, but it never worked, so I just spent three years being miserable because I wouldn’t let myself be who I really was. In the moment it seemed like all that mattered was being cool and being part of “in” group, but looking

 

Who was your mentor when you were younger? what did they teach you?

When I was younger my grandfather was my mentor. He taught me that all that matters in life is loving others and having fun, which is a motto I definitely still live by today. He inspired me to be a Social Work major. He also helped shaped my personality a lot. I think I am so silly and lively all the time because of him.

 

If you had to describe yourself in 5 words, what would they be? Why?

My first word is sleepy. Even if I’m not tired I’m always ready to take a nap.

My second word is fun. I think life is all about having fun because what’s the point of doing anything if you’re miserable.

My third is empathetic. I genuinely try to understand what people are feeling and use it to understand them as a person. I think it helps me not be as judgmental and it makes me a better friend and family member and human.

My fourth word is goofy. I love being silly and being able to not take life seriously.

My last word is kind. I really dislike negativity and hatefulness. It’s so easy to be kind to others because at the end of the day all people are just people and the way you treat them has an effect on them.

 

Emma Bocher – Project Management Intern

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I’m a second year Leadership and Communication major at UT from New Jersey! I love listening to music and if could eat only one meal for the rest of my life, it would definitely be pizza! With cookie dough ice cream for dessert.

 

Why do you feel passionate about GEN?

I feel passionate about GEN because I believe that each girl is unique and has so much potential that deserves to be uncovered and highlighted. Girls rule!

 

What’s your biggest motivation?

My biggest motivation is knowing that the work we do here at GEN has a direct impact on girls in central Texas and that by continuing to inspire and work with these girls on a daily basis results in a visible ripple effect that has the power to change the world.

 

If you could tell your middle-school self anything, what would it be?

If I could tell my middle-school self anything, I would say, “Your braces are coming off soon!! Don’t worry!!” 🙂

 

Who was your mentor when you were younger? what did they teach you?

One of my mentors when I was younger was my fourth grade teacher. She taught me that kindness is not overrated and that learning can and should be fun!

 

What are some goals you plan to accomplish?

A goal that I hope to accomplish in the near future is being accepted into the Teach For America corps and being able to work as a teacher in an underserved school district.

 

When do you feel the most confident and why?

I feel the most confident when I surround myself with positive and inspiring people. When you’re around people who are comfortable with themselves and encourage you to be exactly the way you are, it is so uplifting and is a major confidence booster.

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