“I am an authentic lighthouse who believes in shining and inspiring radiance in others through my unified and transparent art which helps others release themselves emotionally, mentally and physically. I am grounded by my values of teamwork, authenticity, integrity, honesty and compassion. My success comes from my writing skills, intuition, confidence, and creativity.”~ Niomi, age 17
Niomi was one of 30+ participants at Eschool4girls, an entrepreneur program for teenage girls who were chosen by their high schools to attend this summer intensive program at NYU designed to empower young women to become confident leaders and entrepreneurs. Along with her classmates, Niomi participated in my workshop “Find Your Voice,” designed to help girls identify the essence of who they are, what they stand for and the special talents they offer the world. Specifically, they identified their:
- Values: the guideposts in their journey to maximize their potential
- Passions: the fuel that drives them towards maximizing their potential
- Strengths: the tools they leverage to maximize their potential
As the girls articulated and summarized these very personal aspects of who they are, . Each girl read her “voice” statement to the class, and the faculty and participants could not hold back their cheers and claps, a sincere expression of the wonder and awe each girl inspired.
At the end of the workshop, the faculty discussed the extraordinary character of each of the girls, their unique voices, and their determination to hold steadfast to their voices regardless of the pressures that push them towards what is “acceptable” in the communities in which they live. There were many girls who discussed their interests in math and science and we all commented how important it is that these girls are encouraged and supported to hold onto those passions. I hope anyone reading this will do what they can to encourage girls to listen to their own voices rather than the voices of others who may put these girls in a box where they cannot fully express themselves.
When founder and Director Allison Wright created this program, her vision was to give these girls hope, determination and confidence to be who they wanted to be for the world. Just like she set out a vision and achieved it, we hope these girls will do the same. Indeed, we had students who went from not speaking in class on the first day of the program to confidently presenting their innovative business ideas to a panel of entrepreneur judges. If they can achieve this extraordinary progress in just two weeks, one can only imagine all the good they can bring to the world.
Below are the statements of the girls who agreed to have their voices published. As you read them, I hope they inspire you to support girls in your family and community. We need to help this next generation of girls identify their voices, and pursue the goals aligned with their voices, so that they can all be their very best for the world.
“I am a creative performance artist who is passionate about bringing joy and entertainment to others. I am grounded by my values of humor, creativity and gratitude. My success comes from my curiosity, energy and ability to inspire others.” ~Nayeli
“I am an enthusiastic leader who is driven by my passions of leading others, meeting new people and driving positive change. I am grounded by my values of boldness, loyalty, respect, teamwork and independence. My success comes from my confidence, leadership abilities, logic, persuasiveness, and enthusiasm.” ~Latisha
“I am a competent, bold and dependable student who is driven by my passions of adventure and engaging with like-minded individuals. I am grounded by my values of honesty, versatility, and self-expression. My success comes from my courage, intellect, and intensity.” ~Alyssa
“I am a transparent leader who is driven by my passions for leadership and open-mindedness. I am grounded by my values of courage and kindness. My success comes from my honesty, my positive emotions and my outgoing personality.” ~Lediana
“I am an enthusiastic creator who is driven by my passions of creating products or services that make life easier. I am grounded by my values of balance, adaptability, drive, order and loyalty. My success comes from my enthusiasm, my ability to be a visionary, and my unique combination of analytical, logical, flexible and creative thinking.” ~Asha
“I am an explorer who is driven by my passion for traveling, adventure, and bringing a product to life. I am grounded by my values of hard work, independence, curiosity and innovation. My success comes from my optimism, discipline, persistence, and being action-oriented.” ~Habiba
“I am a person of truth. I am a person of respect. I don’t let anybody disrespect me and I will keep fighting for my respect. I am a person of loyalty. I am happy, healthy and wealthy. I will stay true to myself and will not lose myself in the game. I will not give up. My dreams will come true.” ~Maya