Hadessah is a National Scholar from Girls Inc. of Chattanooga and passionate about advocacy and using her voice for positive change. Growing up, Hadessah wasn’t sure what the future would hold. As a child, she saw her mother struggle with drug addiction and domestic violence, which affected her tremendously. She eventually went to live with her grandmother who discovered Girls Inc.
It was at Girls Inc. where Hadessah began to rebuild her confidence. She found a safe, supportive environment to discover herself and the future she wanted to create. She met girls who had their own challenges and stories, which made her feel accepted and understood. She learned that pain and tough times can lead to something beautiful. With support from staff and her peers, Hadessah learned to channel her emotions into motivation and set goals for herself.
While working on a Women’s History Project, Hadessah gained a mentor and role model in one of her local judges. She learned that her mentor had also dealt with domestic violence but eventually gathered the courage to leave. She taught Hadessah that women, even when they face challenging situations, can regain control of their own narrative.
In addition to being a Girls Inc. National Scholar, Hadessah also participated in the Girls Inc. Action Network, a year-long youth advocacy program that helps girls build leadership skills and supports the development of Girls Inc. advocacy work. Last year, Hadessah traveled with the Girls Action Network to Washington D.C. and lobbied Congress alongside other girls to pass a trauma bill. The bill contained provisions very personal to Hadessah, and she took the opportunity to share her own story with senators to encourage them to make mental health and sexual harassment a top priority on their agendas.
“A lot of the times, girls are pushed to the sidelines and not always given the same opportunities as everyone else. That’s why it is so important for girls to get involved in advocacy. We have the incredible ability to use our voice, and we need to reach out and take opportunities so that we can make a difference,” she says.
Girls Inc. has given Hadessah the chance to overcome childhood obstacles and the opportunity to strive for good. She is excited to start her first year at University of Chicago this fall. Hadessah is passionate about History and English and continues to forge a path of self-discovery to explore potential career aspirations. Whatever the future brings, she knows that she will always remember her time at Girls Inc., the friendships she has made, and the strength she discovered in her own voice.