“Growing up as an only child shaped my shy personality. It wasn’t until high school where I began to participate in as many extracurriculars as I could seeing as my school has over 5000 students. I saw myself joining the debate team and our school’s Concert Choir in order to expose myself to new things and find my passion. Yet I felt I needed to do something for my own community. The Gateway Honors Institute at my school focuses on helping low-income minority students at Francis Lewis through internship and enrichment opportunities as well as college preparation. Gateway encouraged me to apply to PowerPlay SuperSTARS Leadership Academy, where I was challenged to think differently about myself. Not only did I get the chance to spend four weeks with inspiring young women from across all five boroughs, but PowerPlay allowed me to participate in any sport or physical activity possible. When it came to rock climbing, my friend Muna guided me to those last five steps to the top. When it came to college prep, seniors Sonya and Kamryn were there to offer their best advice on high school. When it came to my first internship, PowerPlay leaders like Kate and Marissa tended to my interests and asked me what field I’d like to gain experience in. The little things I learned from each lady at PowerPlay showed me what it meant to be empowered.
My neighborhood wasn’t always keen on encouraging girls to pursue college as most girls dropped out support their family and went straight to work. PowerPlay became the first place that exposed me to unlimited support from women; all with the dream of attending college and inspiring girls in their neighborhood to do the same. PowerPlay allowed me to cherish my introvert personality, always pushing me to feel like I could do anything. Having the opportunity to coach young girls and learn from their experience, I realized I had to make the path to college easier for them by offering the same advice I received as a PowerPlay girl. As the years go by, women are now being praised for their strong and intelligent characters, and I hope this continues as the next generation prepares for their next internship, college, or job. Programs like PowerPlay enable girls to think of others and thus, think of a new future for themselves. The PowerPlay community has motivated me to join non-profits, such as the Opportunity Network and Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America. With this endless support, I applied to Princeton University, a place I never imagined myself in but have been blessed with an acceptance. Every girl will face a separate struggle at one point in their life, but PowerPlay encourages girls to view this as a way to realize their own potential.”