Meet Girls Inc. alumna Nayeli of Girls Inc. of the Central Coast. She shares how the Girls Inc. Experience impacted her, from the help she received to insights she gained that are proving invaluable as an adult…
I always looked forward to participating in the Girls Inc. programs in my small town of Greenfield, California during my middle and high school days. It was a fun and different way to spend my time in my otherwise very calm farm-working town. Over time, I understood that Girls Inc. was not only fun—it was helping me grow. That is why being a Girls Inc. Youth Leader and facilitating that process for other girls at my school was the most rewarding first job I could have had.
My experiences in Girls Inc. programs helped me build my self-confidence, discover my interests, and unleash my potential. I learned about healthy habits, healthy relationships, colleges, careers, goal setting, and more. I even went to the State Capitol and spoke to my representatives. Additionally, I came to appreciate sisterhood and being a girl. I learned how girls and women in my own community and across the world empower each other.
Nayeli (right) when she was a youth leader during high school.
It is no wonder that my parents encouraged my participation in Girls Inc. We came to the U.S. from Mexico when I was in the first grade and they knew that the leaders and volunteers at Girls Inc. could teach me things that they themselves did not know. And the people who supported Girls Inc. were interested in all of me, not only on getting me to learn one thing or on improving a specific statistic in my low-income community. They were about supporting us girls to live up to our potential.
Ultimately, this all helped me pursue my educational goals of studying at Stanford University and complete a master’s program in sustainable energy systems at top universities in Europe. I have been bold enough to live in several countries and travel extensively for work, studies, research, and fun. Perhaps more importantly, my experiences at Girls Inc. helped me navigate my studies, jobs, relationships, travels, and other experiences knowing who I am and the respect I deserve.
What advice would you give to girls knowing what you know now?
I would like all girls to live strong, smart, and bold lives. Know that strong and loving relationships—with yourself, your family, your partner, your friends, your mentors—make you stronger. Make sure your relationships are healthy. You deserve no less. You are also smart enough to think critically about the messages you’re exposed to and to be selective about which ones you’ll take in. We are constantly getting messages from the media, our peers, our broader community, and just about anywhere. Know that you don’t have to follow a path or an idea simply because it’s popular.
Be bold. Be you.