If there is one campus organization that tries to emulate the University motto “Ever Better,” it’s the UR chapter of She’s the First—a national organization, which aims to raise money for girls in low-income countries who want an education. Without this help, some of these girls would be unable to pursue further schooling.
The girls who are funded through She’s the First will have a relationship with the members, as the organization watches the progress of the scholars until they graduate. Co-founder and publicity chair of the group, Laura Cowie-Haskell, cares about being able to communicate with the girls they are sponsoring. “A lot of clubs that I’m a part of on campus are just more complacent with just talking about issues, but we actually do things,” Cowie-Haskell said. “It just feels really good to have that tangible evidence of making an impact.”
She’s the First has only been in existence for one semester, but their first fundraiser, Bake a Change, has already raised over $1,200. With this money, the organization is co-funding three scholars’ educations in conjunction with other universities. Once these scholars are attending their respective universities, She’s the First will be able to see how their work has affected these girls’ lives.
On top of achieving these admirable goals, the Rochester chapter of She’s the First has additional ambitions to assist girls in here in the community. In addition to tutoring with the Refugee Student Alliance every Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m., they also have a partnership with the Kearns Center’s Upward Bound program, which helps local high school students graduate and go on to college. She’s the First meets monthly with the Affinity Group, which focuses on the females in the Upward Bound program.
Although the club’s executive board is equally made up of men and women, most people interested in the organization are female. Cowie-Haskell noted that one of the co-founders, Tarik Cristen, is trying to spread awareness of men’s interest in She’s The First, as it is an issue that their club has been experiencing.
“This is a men’s issue too,” she said. “Everyone should be involved in helping marginalized people and those with inadequate educational tools get access to education.”
The group has a lot in store for this semester. They plan on hosting a screening of the film “Difret,” directed by Angelina Jolie, to raise awareness about the struggles of socio-economic change for women in developing countries, where girls often have much lower school enrollment rates than boys as result of their limited access to education. They also plan to hold a “Sweat for STF” event, at which they will teach Krav Maga, a form of self-defense, to raise money for students. As well, She’s the First will be co-sponsoring an event with the Rochester Center for Community Leadership on Saturday Feb. 13, where there will be free ice skating. This is all in an effort to bring the community together; both volunteers and participants are welcome at the event.
“This club is majorly the only time that I’ve felt that I’ve given back to the community,” Cowie-Haskell said. “I think it’s one of the most fulfilling things you can do.”