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Eight weeks and countless rides in our beloved giant white van later, DukeEngage Orange County has finally come to a close. I couldn’t help but reminisce and reflect about all of my experiences as I was packing up my room. I survived the treacherous “June gloom”; the DukeEngage cohort transformed from a group of strangers into a family, and although I was technically a “teacher” of sorts at Global G.L.O.W., my girls unknowingly taught me a lot as well.

The girls I met through Global G.L.O.W. were absolutely brilliant. They would come to camp with smiles on their faces ready to soak up all of the information I spewed at them every single day. Some of these girls came from communities that face tremendous adversity, however there was rarely any indication that these girls had faced such hardship because they brought this relentless enthusiasm day in and day out. Whether we were talking about algorithms or activism they dove headfirst into every activity, and in doing so these girls taught me so much about being resilient and using knowledge as a method of empowerment. The enrichment of education and mentorship are the invaluable components of a worthwhile education and it was my goal to do everything in my power to ensure that the girls I crossed paths with this Summer had access to these resources. I hope that these girls who so often feel underrepresented in STEM, and academia in general, can use the lessons and resources from this summer to help obtain the leverage they need to overcome the socioeconomic barriers that stand in the way of them getting the most out of the education they deserve.

Using education as a means to empower youth molds the next generation into the most capable and confident individuals they can be. The future is female, and my hope is that I was able to simultaneously educate and embolden our girls by providing them with the skillset they need to dismantle the “like a girl” fallacy and fearlessly pursue whatever goals they put their mind to.