by Rachel Gallagher
As the 2017 spring semester continues, the Catholic University of America’s chapter of She’s the First begins its inaugural semester. She’s the First is a non-profit organization, which according to their website, works to provide scholarships for “girls in low-income countries, fostering first-generation graduates and cultivating the next generation of global leaders.”
“Over the summer I was looking for internships and trying to find organizations that would support women’s education,” said Cara Duffy, a sophomore politics major and a co-founder of the Catholic University of America’s chapter of She’s the First. Duffy serves as co-president along with fellow sophomore politics major, Elisa D’Egidio.
“I found this organization and I realized it had campus chapters and we didn’t have one at our school. When I got back to campus [this fall] two of my friends joined up and we went through the process of starting it here,” Duffy said.
“I wanted to participate in She’s the First because it involved two issues I am most passionate about, economic development and women’s rights,” said Abby Fitzgerald, a sophomore economics major, co-founder and vice president of the university’s chapter. “I love that we will be able to directly provide an individual girl the scholarship she needs to graduate high school. It’s a cause you know is actually changing someone’s life.”
For the club’s first semester, the goal is to raise money to provide scholarships for four girls in low income countries.
The recipients of the scholarships will also be able to be in contact with the group.
“A lot of girls our age can’t go to elementary school, let alone college,” said Duffy. “We can connect with [the girls] via skype, pen pal. We know their names and they are basically going to high school because of our donations and money we raise.”
Creating a network is a theme for She’s the First. According to the She’s the First official website, one of the organization’s main goals is to “influence a larger movement with our expansive network of high school and college campus chapters across the U.S. and worldwide.”
Beyond providing scholarships, the club hopes to help women on campus through the larger She’s the First network. The group has a LinkedIn page for the Catholic University of America chapter of She’s the First.
“A big goal is we want to not only give back to these girls, but for the women who join our club we want it to be a professional network for them,” Duffy said.
The club’s faculty advisor is Julia Lau, who has been a professor in the Politics Department at the Catholic University of America since 2013.
“I taught Abigail Fitzgerald and Elisa D’Egidio last spring and they approached me because I spoke about empowering women and girls, and gender inequality,” Lau said. “I’ve had experience mentoring women and youth both in Singapore and at Georgetown University, where I took my graduate degrees.”
“My hope is that our chapter can realize its aspirations of sending many girls to school and also raise awareness on campus about the state of education in the developing world,” Lau said.
Upcoming events for She’s the First will include a screening of Half the Sky February 27th at 6:30pm in the Pryzbyla Center Great Room B, a LinkedIn Headshot fundraiser on March 20th, and “With My Bookbag” speaker panel on March 29th. Further updates on She’s the First can be found on the Nest.