“It’s okay to change your mind. You are not going to be the same person going into college, coming out of it.” (Alahia, 2016 YWIL Graduate)

YWIL

And with that profound insight, we have finished our second year of the Young Women in Leadership (YWIL) program. On May 23, 2016, our YWIL girls graduated from the program stronger, smarter, and bolder than ever. After watching these young women present their final projects at YWIL graduation, it’s evident that the girls we met at the beginning of the year are not the same ones leaving us now. As Alahia so wisely emphasized, we’re constantly growing and evolving, and the YWIL experience was no exception.

Throughout the year, the YWIL girls and staff listened to panels on women in leadership, toured facilities in the science industry, gave back to the community, and practiced their leadership skills in real time.

After a year of self-development with YWIL, Anyea knows “I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”

One YWIL graduate, Ronasiah, put her mind to improving in school. She started off the school year with grades that consisted of B’s and C’s, but now she’s making A’s and B’s. Through YWIL, Ronasiah has realized that “what you do now will make a difference.”

Seeing our board member, Mariama Carson, organize a women in leadership panel, YWIL graduate, Deja-Marie, learned that “you work to be a leader.”

At the panel, the girls had the opportunity to hear from Kara Brooks, Press Secretary for Gov. Mike Pence, Kerri Officer, Fashion Designer, Stefanie Crawford, Attorney at Lewis Wagner LLP, Samantha Jones-Davis, Dentist & Owner at J. Orthodontics, and Gena Brown, owner of Studio G Fitness Studio.

During a tour of Vertellus Inc., Linda Hicks organized a panel discussion as well. This time the focus was on women in the STEM industry, but the girls did not just listen to women leaders and scientists on panels. They became leaders in their own right.

At the Agape Therapeutic Riding Center, the YWIL girls had to complete horse-based challenges, which tested their leadership style in group settings. To corral the horses, the girls had to think of the needs of others, not just themselves.

At Overflow Closet, the YWIL girls helped with clean-up and organization for their community service project. The YWIL girls got to experience a not for profit first hand by providing apparel services to women in need. The YWIL girls even presented their own business plans for Overflow Closet.

But where will the girls take all of their new skills? The Indiana College tour was a whirl wind adventure around Indiana to visit four of the most talked about schools in the state. Now the girls not only have the skills to succeed in college, they have the skills to apply and get there.

Right before the mic was passed on to our YWIL girls at graduation, LaTasha Hudson, Director of Programs, let attendees of the graduation in on a little secret: “Next year, we are looking at taking a group of girls to either New York or Canada.”

Take a cue from LaTasha. Dream big YWIL graduates. And congrats.