Girls to Girls provides scholarships to Kenyan students
By Amelia Spence, Reporter
There are many clubs at the high school, but few allow students to make as much of a visible impact on the world as Girls to Girls. The group, which was founded in 2012 by then eighth graders at McMurray, focuses on raising money to provide scholarships to Kenyan students. Working for such an important cause is no small task, and Girls to Girl members dedicate significant time and effort to the group.
“It’s been inspiring to see the members, how hard they work, and how they’re motivated to make change when they are working on something they care about,” freshman co-president Jessica Levin said.
The group has a multi-faceted mission — though their primary goal is to provide scholarships — and through this they hope to make a deeper impact on the Kenyan students’ lives.
“Our main purpose is making sure that girls have access to education,” senior secretary Samantha Ziegler said. “And through getting access to education, [they] also achieve confidence … [We]’re able to really advance not just the lives of the girls that are going to school, but their families and the community.”
Levin reflected on what she has learned from being in Girls to Girls and how the group has impacted her own life.
“It’s definitely taught me a lot of skills, how to communicate and how to work with different people,” Levin said. “It’s changed my view on the world because when you hear about these people who are living [in Kenya], they [don’t have] as many opportunities as us but they work so hard.”
Ziegler felt similarly, reflecting on the new perspective she has gained from the group.
“I’ve learned how similar we are, because when you think about someplace so far away, you think it’s a completely different planet,” she said. “It’s really nice to see their passion, and [how] the reasons why I want to go into [medicine] are very similar to why they want to.”
Every year, the group hosts fundraisers to raise the scholarship money, such as bake sales, selling items at the Strawberry Festival, and a yearly banquet. Once the funds have been raised, there comes the task of sorting through the applications and deciding who gets the scholarships.
The group receives applications from 10 schools in Kenya, with 10-20 applications from each school. Each application includes a teacher letter of recommendation, the student’s grades, and a personal statement written by the student.
“We look at how good their grades are, if we’ve sponsored them before, and then … we choose who to sponsor,” Levin said. “We want to choose girls who show us that they want to make an impact on their community.”
The group is advised by Mary Margaret Welch, a science educator and co-founder of the nonprofit organization SeaVuria. She has high hopes for the members of Girls to Girls.
“I hope they learn how to be a global citizen, to understand that people around the world are exactly the same, that we are given some gifts being citizens of the U.S.,” Welch said. “[I hope they learn] to understand people from all other parts of the world as well, and to do our best to be open to ideas or cultures and empathy from one another.”
Welch is happy with what the group has accomplished.
“I’m really proud of the girls that I have an opportunity to work with,” Welch said. “They’re really committed and the work that they do is really important. And how many times in your life do you authentically get to make a difference in someone else’s life?”
Students interested in joining Girls to Girls can contact co-presidents Ellie Lande (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jessica Levin (email@example.com) for more information. All students are welcome.