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Marisa Mastripolito


Swarthmore, PA

I chose to lean in for myself, the future generation of girls, and most importantly the future daughters I may have.

In fourth grade I got an assignment to research a significant person in our country's history. After looking through a plethora of books, I decided on one person: Susan B. Anthony. I read how she marched for women's equality, the right to vote and much more. I realized that her courageous efforts allowed me to do so many things I took for granted, and the assignment spurred me into action. There I was, the "nerd" turning everything the boys did to the girls into a fight for women's rights. Little did I know then that as the years went on, I would lose that sense of drive.

Recently I got my drive back. My sociology teacher, a self-proclaimed feminist, spoke to me one day in class. She said she saw a strong woman in me, someone who needs to change the world and, most importantly, someone who is not like the other girls. Through her guidance I have realized that she was right. "The girls like me," as she likes to say, are the girls that make change. She handed me my copy of Lean In. Above all, she's the reason I am leaning in.

At 18 years old I have many decisions to make. The biggest so far was what I would do for the next four years. College was something I always worked towards, so that was a quick decision for me. The next question was about my major and what I will do with my degree. I chose a double major of English/Communications and as for my career, I am aspiring to be a political lobbyist.

When I told my mother my plans, the first thing she said was, "What about your family?" I think my answer was not one she was looking for. I told her that I have goals I have to achieve before I choose to have a family. I told her I want a husband who will split the work 50/50 so I can work. Work will keep me sane, and my children will be raised in a gender-neutral household.

I may have disappointed her for some time, but I know for a fact I am making her proud. Some men are afraid of my ambition; some just call me the "B" word. I take their concerns and criticisms and smile. Some girls feel the same way. I'm a threat, but so what. I worked for this. Words can't break the ambition I have, and in no way will they ever stop the plans I have to change the world and workforce for women.

I just recently started reading Lean In and for my end-of-year senior project I will be speaking to my classmates about the book. I'm sure my presentation will be met with eye rolls and sighs of boredom, but I know my words will reach someone. The more I read, the more I realize that I have been leaning in this whole time. I chose to lean in for myself, the future generation of girls, and most importantly the future daughters I may have. I can only hope that more girls see what I see and choose to lean in.