I have always had the unique combination of unshakable self-confidence combined with paralyzing uncertainty. I was raised to believe that I could do anything that I set my mind to. I had so many ideas of what I could be: from a veterinarian to a lawyer (and then my secret dream of becoming a weather channel meteorologist). I had no idea how to narrow down those dreams.
In August of 2004, I started my undergraduate degree at Florida State University. College was not as easy as I expected it to be. It was not the intensity of the work that challenged me; it was finding a balance between my outside activities and my classroom work.
I distinctly remember the moment I found out that I had received a “D” in my math class. Something had to change. I knew I couldn’t continue to spend time on something I dearly loved: tutoring elementary school children in a local low-income area of Tallahassee. The intensity of the heartbreak I felt made me realize how much I truly loved the feeling of giving back, especially through the gift of helping a child learn.
Two years after graduation, I decided to go back to school to get a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). I wanted to focus on non-profit management but had no idea what exactly I wanted to focus on.
One tweet changed my life.
I had been searching every corner of the Internet for inspiration. Then I had a moment when I just knew I’d found it. I stumbled upon a website called She’s the First, an organization devoted to educating girls in developing countries. I read through the entire site; the organization stirred something in my soul.
I knew the woman I wanted to become. I had to Lean In. I had to go for it. Letting it go felt almost criminal. I sent a tweet to the founder of She’s the First, and assumed it just went out into cyberspace. However, the stars aligned and I became one of the organization’s first interns.
My uncertainty slowly disappeared and I was left was unshakable self-confidence. I had found my voice and my passion. I went on to become a member of the organization’s research team and founded a campus chapter at FGCU. Last year, I completed my Master’s degree and got a job at the PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville, Florida. I work as a social services counselor and every day I have the opportunity to change lives. I help teenage girls – who have already lived through very challenging circumstances – to reach for their dreams.
Because of She’s the First, I found my voice and now I get to help incredible young women find theirs. I help them lean in.