International Gender Equality Movement hosts second annual campus day for local girls

Allyson Chiu, Reporter

The International Gender Equality Movement is hosting its second annual campus day for at-risk high school girls on Saturday in Harris Hall to better inform them about higher education opportunities.

The three-hour event will feature a tour of Northwestern’s campus and presentations about the admissions process, financial aid and college life, said Jessica Marone, iGEM’s community development co-chair. The day is designed to benefit high school girls from refugee organizations, low-income families and schools where a large percentage of people do not go to college.

“It’s important to be constantly thinking about college,” said Marone, a Weinberg senior. “This was something that was drilled into my head when I was in high school by a team of guidance counselors. Those resources might not always be available, especially for at-risk high school students.”

IGEM is a chapter of the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign, which aims to empower adolescent girls around the world. The organization’s mission is two-fold, said co-founders Vivien Hastings and Carly Pablos, who formed the group their sophomore year. IGEM aims to educate NU students about issues affecting females around the world in addition to helping local adolescent girls build leadership skills and understand how their peers are impacted by global issues.

This year, iGEM is expanding its campus day activities by inviting the Quest Scholars Network to teach a financial aid workshop and by creating a panel of speakers, including a guidance counselor from New Trier High School, a NU professor and a student. Hastings, a Weinberg senior, said the reason for the panel is to provide the girls with all the different perspectives on college.

“The overall goal is to introduce the idea of college as a possibility for a lot of these young women who are told that it’s not in their future,” said Pablos, a SESP senior. “We did this last year and a lot of the girls really didn’t know much about what college even was.”

Despite their lack of knowledge about higher education, GirlForward program director Ashley Marine said she has noticed many refugee families believe education is the key to success for their children.

GirlForward is a Chicago-based non-profit refugee organization that works to support adolescent girls through mentoring, educational programs and leadership opportunities, Marine said.

“For refugee families the American dream is very real,” Marine said. “They have been fleeing persecution and parents are struggling to keep their children safe. They come to this country because they know their daughters and sons have opportunities here. One of those primary opportunities is education. Every family I talk to one of the first things they say is they want daughters to become doctors, lawyers or teachers.”

In addition to girls from GirlFoward, the event will bring together members of RefugeeOne, Heartland Alliance, Chinese Mutual Aid Association and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago as well as students from the Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Englewood. Previously, only teenagers from GirlForward and RefugeeOne participated in campus day.

“We wanted to make this event an opportunity to bring together all kinds of women to share knowledge and learn together,” Hastings said.

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