I was recently honored at the 27th Annual Strong, Smart and Bold Fundraiser Luncheon, held by Girls Inc. of Alameda County. If you’re not familiar with Girls Inc., it is truly one of my favorite organizations. They are an amazing nonprofit that inspires hundreds of thousands of girls from underserved communities across the nation to be strong, smart & bold.
I could go on and on about what an incredible honor this was, but I actually want to turn the focus onto the real inspirations of the day: the high school scholars. The three girls that I had the privilege of meeting were such great reminders of why I do the work I do. Here’s a little more about Jenny, Vanessa, and Jennifer, and what makes them so amazing:
Jenny really impressed me. She is really soft spoken, but there is a passion and wisdom within her that shines so bright.
- Name: Jenny Fang
- Age: 18
- City: San Leandro
- Favorite hobbies: gardening in my backyard, finding new ways to transition my lifestyle from conventional to conscious, reading, spending time with my family, stretching
- The best teacher I ever had: is my brother because he tests my limits like nobody ever does .
- List three words that describe you: mindful advocate & explorer
- What has been the highlight of your high school years? The highlight of my high school years is finding an interest in environmental sustainability, which was the medium that essentially pushed me to develop a voice and grow as an individual, advocate and leader.
- Who is your role model and why? My mom is my role model. She is one of the constants of my life, and I know her well. I know her positive and negative traits, the good and bad habits she has; all of who she is has most shaped my values and helped me gauge what kind of person I want and don’t want to be.
- Where do you hope to be in 5-10 years? I really don’t know. These last few years have been an exciting uphill journey that I had accidentally embarked on. Whatever it is that I do in 5-10 years, I want the joy, the spontaneity and the fun to continue.
At Girls Inc., Jennifer challenged herself with new experiences such as playing on sports teams, taking self-defense classes and learning how to swim. As the first in her family to go to college, Jennifer was guided through the college application process by Girls Inc. mentors and has plans to study sociology.
- Name: Jennifer Vazquez
- Age: 17
- City: Oakland
- Favorite hobbies: Spending time with family, playing flute, watching Korean Dramas.
- The best teacher I ever had was: my drama teacher because she believed that I could do anything. She encouraged me to break out of my comfort zone, and that helped me so much.
- List three words that describe you: Humble, kind, and artistic
- What has been the highlight of your high school years: acting in the plays and musicals. Playing in the school Orchestra. Being a part of student government. Volunteering in Ven A Ver, and spending time with my friends.
- Who is your role model and why: My parents have always been my role models. My parents have always worked hard so my siblings and I could have better futures. They have supported me in all my decisions and encouraged me to strive for better things in life. They always tell me to be humble. I have been blessed with two parents that love me and will always be there for me.
- Where do you hope to be in 5-10 years? Five years from now, I will be the first in my family to graduate college. I see myself moving back to California. I see myself having a job and helping others. I will be giving back to my community and help all who once helped me.
Vanessa’s story brought tears to my eyes: she was once a young Ghanaian-American girl with low esteem, who was bullied and tormented in school. She talked about how she cried every day after school, as the shouts of “ugly black girl” being yelled in the hallway replayed in her mind. But getting involved with Girls, Inc. changed everything, helped her realize that she is worthy of respect.
- Name: Vanessa Hayfron
- City: San Leandro
- Favorite Hobbies: love to cook, artistic,love spending time with my family,love shopping,and love fashion.
- The best teacher I ever had was: Ms. Wettergreen my movement teacher. The reason why she is my favorite teacher because she is a very dedicated teacher who really wants students to push there selves to their dreams and aspirations.
- Three words that describes me: funny, creative, nice.
- The highlight of my school year: is in 10th grade because I was exposed to so much clubs and diverse opportunities.
- My role model is: my sister Keisha she inspires me be very open to many opportunities and she is a leader who gives me great advice for my future.
- In five years I see myself: graduated from college and becoming a pediatrician.
Congratulations, ladies! You are all amazing inspirations, and I can’t wait to hear about all the great things you’ll do!