Michael Marafino | Staff Writer
Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, once said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” A club at Duquesne is following her words by helping girls in need.
Duquesne University’s branch of Strong Women, Strong Girls received a $13,500 grant for winning second place in the “Students with Drive” program run by Zipcar and Ford Motor Company. Along with the money, they also received scholarship money and Zipcar driving credit.
Zipcar and Ford started the “Students with Drive” program in 2011 in order to promote change within campuses, hoping to expand that change throughout society. Overall, the companies have donated more than $1 million to student organizations seeking change throughout the country.
Strong Women, Strong Girls is a support organization dedicated to empowering young, troubled girls. To do this, the organization sets the girls up with college women who serve as mentors to guide the girls through their troubles.
The organization has a motive to develop capable leaders in the empowerment of women in society by training mentors to promote fortitude in the young girls. The intent is to bring about real change in society through the strengthening of young women.
“Strong Women Strong Girls is a national mentoring organization based in Pittsburgh and Boston” said Rachael Reiner, one of the Chapter Directors. “Duquesne University is the largest chapter of the six universities with SWSG programs in Pittsburgh. As an organization, we are dedicated to matching college-aged women with elementary girls in grades 3-5.”
Reiner continued to explain the responsibilities of the mentors and what specifically happens at the meetings.
“Our college mentors attend mentoring sessions at the same elementary school or community program each week,” she said. “At the sites, our mentors check in with the girls, talk about high points and low points of their weeks, teach the girls about strong women in history or current society, and provide a great mentor relationship for the girls who need a role model to look up to.”
The organization’s Facebook page states that the organization has built a program that shows the girls the impact of strong female role models in society. Through mentoring and skill-building activities, relationships are built that establish a strong level of self-assurance and a skillset that will forever stay with the girls.
The rewards the organization won through the program will aid in the expansion of the program throughout Pittsburgh, since the organization relies heavily on Zipcar for transportation.
“Without Zipcar, we definitely wouldn’t have the impact that we do in Pittsburgh,” said Emma-Rae Ranger, experimental learning coordinator. “Without Zipcar, we can’t mentor. We can’t get to our sites. We can’t get to our girls.”
“Student organizations are key drivers of positive change on and off campus and an important part of our mission to make colleges and universities better places to live, work and study,” said Kate Pope Smith, director of integrated marketing for Zipcar.
“We’re incredibly proud of our annual ‘Students with Drive’ program and the impact student winners have made on campuses and in their local communities, from providing innovative models to combat hunger, to mentoring elementary students and getting students outside to connect with nature,” she said.