Inquiring what someone is the first to do is my favorite question to ask people. It’s similar to asking a child what he or she wants to be when they grow up, but yet not quite the same. Defining what you're the first to accomplish requires you to be more bold and brave. You have to dream bigger than the preexisting career paths you’re familiar with, and perhaps overcome some hurdles no one in your family or network has before. So with that in mind, let me tell you about my "first."
I am the first in my immediate family to graduate from college, move to New York City, and also travel to Africa. It was actually two trips to Liberia that changed my life by igniting my passion for the global education of girls. You see, Iâ��m the president/founder of Sheâ��s the First, a nonprofit sponsoring the education of girls in the developing world so they can be first in their families to graduate from high school. Did you know that in countries like India, Guatemala, Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda, just to name a few, that four out of five girls will not have the chance to graduate high school? We actually teach students in the U.S. how to creatively raise funds, and build their own leadership skills in the process.
I spend a great deal of my time working with the U.S.-based chapters of Sheâ��s the First at colleges, universities, and high schools as well as on an emerging high school/social media enrichment program with the Young Womenâ��s Leadership Network schools of New York City. My work connects me with first-generation college students all across the nation, and every day with the help of the Sheâ��s the First team, we are building friendships with first-generation high school grads worldwide.
Jancy is an amazing young woman Christen Brandt, our director of international operations (above right), and photographer Kate Lord (above left) met on their self-funded trip to visit Shanti Bhavan in India. She's a student we began sponsoring in 2010 with proceeds from our “first birthday” fundraiser.
Christen and Kate just returned to New York City the other day, so click here to check out their travel blog. She's the First would love to hear about your "first" via Twitter (@shesthefirst) or join the movement by logging on to the organization's site.
Both images courtesy of Kate Lord