New club supports female education around the world
Immersed in a university setting, it can be easy to forget that the opportunity for a quality education is not a guarantee for many people. Whether it is an issue of poverty, travel safety, social acceptability or general access, millions of young women across the globe are struggling to graduate. However, organizations like national non-profit She’s the First believe that, with the right tools at their disposal, these girls have the potential to be this generation’s next global leaders. By providing scholarships, mentorships, health and wellness services and boarding arrangements, She’s the First assists girls in low-income countries in becoming the first in their families to graduate high school. According to the organization, after overcoming the various obstacles in her way, a girl with an education is unstoppable.
It is precisely this unstoppable spirit that inspired Marisa Reinhart ‘19, the University’s chapter president, to bring She’s the First to life on campus. After discovering the organization through social media, Reinhart knew that its message was the perfect fit for both the changing political climate and the mission of the University.
“Education opened a world of opportunities for me, but 62 million girls around the world don’t get the same chance,” Reinhart said. “I want to do all I can to address this issue. By starting a chapter of She’s the First, I hope to raise awareness and funds for girls who would otherwise not have an education.”
After receiving approval from the national organization, Reinhart founded the Villanova chapter in late January of 2017 with the help of the club’s advisor, Professor Rebecca Winer. Since then, Reinhart and her vice president, Kate Montebello ‘19, have been working nonstop to make She’s the First a success on campus. Over 90 students have signed up and expressed interest in the cause, and plans for fundraising and awareness campaigns are already underway. These preliminary ideas include a film screening, a project of particular significance to Reinhart.
“The summer before freshman year, I watched the documentary ‘Girl Rising,’ which is what really opened my eyes to the issue of international education inequality,” she said.
To foster this awareness in their fellow students, the club members hope to screen “Girl Rising” in the near future and promote its message within the campus community. The chapter’s other potential events involve a wide variety of activities, including baking and group exercise classes, to engage as many students as possible.
Even in such an early phase of its development, it seems that She’s the First has already elicited widespread enthusiasm throughout the student body—a phenomenon that the chapter’s vice president attributes to the compatibility of the two groups’ missions.
“I think She’s the First fulfills not only Villanova’s dedication to service, but also to academics,” Montebello said. “It’s a great way for students to connect with the world outside of our campus and support female education.”
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