Kianna Kinsey

In 7th grade I struggled with issues of body image and academic performance. I saw myself as “thicker” than other girls at my school. I was down on myself because I was not the “ideal” body type and could not fit into certain clothes. This negative self-image was complicated by the fact that I did not look like the girls at my school. Being different from other girls caused me to have insecurities about my physical features, like the curly texture of my hair. I wanted to change myself by straightening my hair to look like everyone else. Academically, I was not performing to the best of my abilities. Honestly, I did not care about my grades. I was just going through the motions because I was not motivated to do more.

Participating in EmpowHer Girls Academy helped me overcome my insecurities and gain self-acceptance. The EmpowHer class was a safe haven for me and other girls. We were able to talk about the challenges we faced. I learned that I was not alone – other girls were also dealing with body image issues. My EmpowHer teacher, Ms. Shari, was instrumental in helping me develop a positive self-image. She taught me to make affirmations because there is power in what we say and think about ourselves. Every day I affirm that, “I am beautiful,” “Everything is going to be okay,” and “Others’ words will not affect me.” Today, I have a positive attitude about myself and my body. I embrace and love everything about myself, especially my curly hair.

Having a mentor gave me the motivation and support I needed to excel academically. My mentor helped me set a goal to improve my grades. She also helped me to identify steps that I needed to take in order to accomplish that goal. By the first quarter of 8th grade, I had the highest G.P.A. in my grade level. My mentor’s constant support and encouragement gave me the push I needed to accomplish that goal. Today, I am inspired to work hard and advance academically. As a sophomore, I take Advanced Placement classes and continually strive to maintain good grades. I plan on attending a four-year college or university when I graduate high school.

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Naiomi Logan

When I was in the 6th grade my father passed away leaving my mother to raise me as a single parent. In addition to dealing with the grief of losing a parent, I was dealing with a sense of loneliness that accompanied being the child of a working single parent. My mother worked all the time. In her absence, I felt that I needed to grow up quick and take care of myself. I adopted the attitude that I don’t need or want help from anyone. I could do everything on my own. I built up a wall that blocked anyone trying to help me.

In 7th grade this, ‘I don’t need your help and nobody can tell me what to do’, attitude negatively affected my relationships with teachers and academic performance. I talked in class and exhibited disruptive behavior. When my teachers confronted me about my behavior I challenged them. I acted defiantly because I rejected their authority. This behavior landed me in the counselor’s office on multiple occasions. I began to get a reputation as a loud, disruptive, and difficult student. My academic performance was mediocre, partially because I had low accountability scores, which speaks to behavior, and partially because I missed a lot of class due to being sent to the counselor’s office.

Participating in EmpowHer Girls Academy was key in changing my attitude towards others and school. Meeting with mentors regularly and participating in activities that allowed us to get to know each other helped me to build trust. Overtime my mentors broke down the wall I had put up. I was able to open up and be vulnerable. For the first time in a long time, I allowed someone to help me and give me advice. My mentors showed me different, more constructive, ways to deal with the issues and challenges that I faced. I learned how to handle situations with manners and respect. Interacting with strong, confident, and driven women inspired me to do better in school.  I began to take school and my education more seriously.

I am no longer looked at as a difficult student. Today, I have a positive attitude. I treat others, especially my teachers, with the respect they are due. I currently hold a 3.65 G.P.A. and am on track to graduate high school in June of 2017. I plan on attending a four-year college. After graduating from college, I plan on attending medical school and becoming a doctor.

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Rickeyna Fields

When I was in 7th grade I had no vision for my future. I did not believe that someone like me, a black girl living in the inner city, could do much. This belief was fueled by the fact that women in my neighborhood and immediate surroundings were not doing much. Not knowing any better, I resigned to the same fate as them. I lacked confidence in myself and my abilities. As a result, I had trouble visualizing what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go in life. Because I had no direction for my future, I had a negative attitude towards school. My grades were poor and I saw no point in trying to improve them.

As an EmpowHer Girls Academy participant, I had to opportunity to attend the Women in Technology International (WITI) Conference in Santa Clara, California. This conference represented several firsts for me. It was the first time that I ventured far beyond my neighborhood. It was the first time that I flew on an airplane. Most notably, it was the first time that I saw and met women entrepreneurs, graphic designers, and innovators. These women, some whom looked like me, were doing some really cool and interesting things in the technology field. Seeing and meeting these women sparked something in me. Suddenly, I felt like I could do those things too. I left the conference inspired and motivated to pursue a career in technology.

EmpowHer gave me the guidance and encouragement that I needed to create a vision for my future. My mentors taught me the significance of education. They were educated women who owned businesses and made a difference in the world. Seeing how important education was to them and their success caused me to change my attitude towards school. Now, I value my education and make it a first priority. I am doing well in school and on track to graduate in June of 2017.  After graduating, I plan on attending a four-year college and majoring in communications. EmpowHer Institute supported my college aspirations by giving me a $2,500 scholarship to attend a Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) tour. The college tour was a life changing and eye-opening experience for me. I traveled outside of California for the first time. I toured colleges and universities that I never knew existed. As a result of the tour, I have decided to attend a HBCU.

The exposure, guidance, and support that I received from the EmpowHer Program was instrumental in shaping me into the young women that I am today. EmpowHer taught me to be confident and to set goals for myself. I know that I am capable and can do anything I set my mind to. I learned the importance of self-esteem, self-worth and self-love. I know that I am worthy of everything that life has to offer. I just have to put forth the effort to obtain it. I also learned the importance of leadership, entrepreneurship, and overall girl power. I am committed to giving back and helping young girls the way my mentors helped me.

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One area that EmpowHer has greatly impacted my life was my relationship with my mom. I was able to communicate better with her. She was able to understand my feelings better than before. I thank EmpowHer for helping me with that.

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EmpowHer has impacted my life positively in a way that they have completely supported us with our future plans. They have also supported us with our self-esteem and speaking up.

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EmpowHer has helped me be more secure about going to high school.

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The EmpowHer class has helped my relationships with my friends. It helped me stay calm when they got me frustrated.

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