Empowher Institute: What prompted you to become an EmpowHer facilitator?
Shari Washington: Since the age of 17, I have been encouraging, motivating and empowering youth to be their best. Â I believe that all youth have the potential to succeed, with the proper support and guidance. When I was job hunting I looked for organizations that embodied this and came upon EmpowHer. Â I was in awe and excited about joining such an amazing team.
Empowher Institute:Â Who would you say has been an influential mentor to you and why?
Shari Washington:Â I began my work with youth in Boston, MA with an organization called ABCD (Action for Boston Community Development). My mentor, Mr. Henry Smith, was the director of this program. He constantly encouraged me, reminded me of my worth, gifts and potential. He believed in me so much that he promoted me to a position that someone 25 years of age or older typically held. At 17-years old, I was the youngest person ever to hold this counseling position.
Empowher Institute: What has made you most proud in your life and why?
Shari Washington:Â What has made me most proud is being a mom of two amazing young men. Along with the normal challenges of raising children, I find solace and joy in the â€œspecial and irreplaceableâ€ moments. Whether itâ€™s a conversation about life on the way to school, or celebrating a win after their games (basketball/football), I feel honored to be their Mom. Â Iâ€™m proud of their academic, athletic and personal accomplishments. Iâ€™m proud of their humble spirits and giving hearts. Iâ€™m proud of their determination to do better and be better. Iâ€™m confident that they we will be successful and make a positive difference in our society.
Empowher Institute:Â What inspires you?
Shari Washington:Â Â A bright smile when I tell a student they are amazing, a raised head when I remind them that there isnâ€™t anything they canâ€™t do with determination and effort, a changed attitude and approach to academics, teachers, family and friends inspires me. The young ladies who donâ€™t realize or havenâ€™t yet tapped into their greatness inspire me, because I know what they donâ€™t know, that potential, gifts, success and greatness are deep within them. Iâ€™m inspired to assist them in tapping into all of this and shining their greatness!
Empowher Institute:Â What’s an unexpected life lesson you’ve learned?
Shari Washington:Â I just celebrated 1 year of survival from Breast Cancer. This was by far unexpected and life changing to say the least. Being faced with death automatically heightened my appreciation of life and all that it has to offer. Â I embrace the big things and the little things in life. I no longer sweat the small stuff. Â My lenses have been eternally altered to embrace what and who is good in my life versus bad. Iâ€™m thankful for another chance and want to pay it forward by continuing to make a positive difference in the lives of our young ladies.
Empowher Institute:Â Â What are two pieces of advice you’d like to share with young girls?
Shari Washington:Â First, you canâ€™t control situations or how people act, be it good or bad; but you can control how you respond. And second, strive to respond in a positive and productive way. Move towards an outcome that puts you in a good place mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Empowher Institute:Â Â When do you feel empowered?
Shari Washington:Â Â I feel most empowered when I am edifying, encouraging and guiding our girls towards success. Personal, academic, athletic, the sky is the limit! I want each and every young lady I come in contact with to realize the beauty they possess within. It might not happen right away, but I will plant that seed and constantly water it! This empowers me!
Empowher Institute:Â Â What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Shari Washington:Â Â The three words that best describe me are: Passionate, Committed, Driven.
Empowher Institute:Â What do you see as a goal in the foreseeable future?
Shari Washington:Â My goal is to be a part of EmpowHer for a very long time. I feel like Iâ€™m home, in that Iâ€™ve found an organization where I can do my lifeâ€™s work. I want to help this organization continue to grow, prosper and positively change the lives of countless young women. I know I can continue to inspire and proactively lead young women being on the EmpowHer Team. Â I want to be that positive difference, I want to be that constant reminder of what they are capable of achieving. I hope my work, my efforts, and my life speak for themselves.