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Kristen

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com

    Choosing the Right College: FREE Event 9/29/19

    Choosing the Right College to fit Your Budget and Interests

    Wonder Woman, Ginger Mayfield – College Advisor and Founder of Mayfield College Advising

    Geared for girls 6th grade and up and parents, the Wonder Women series features prominent women from our community and addresses topics relevant to girls in middle and high school. Join us for an engaging and interactive conversation about college – where to go, how to decide, and how to pay for it! Ginger will give a general overview of the college recruitment and admissions process and will highlight an often overlooked resource – women’s colleges. Get insights into the complicated college admissions process from someone with years of experience in this industry.

    Ginger learned from her father who was a college guidance counselor, and then she went on to get an MA in counseling, working as a high school counselor for several years before starting her own business. Now she works with clients across the area and visits 25 colleges per year. 

    Refreshments will be provided!

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com

    Portrait of a Gap Year: Work, Activism, Writing, Self-Care, and Self-Discovery

    Interview with Allie and Sonita

    Guest Post by Alexandra Zehner

    Ever since middle school, I had my life all planned out: graduate from high school, launch straight into college, graduate from college, and immediately enter grad school or a career. Straying from this pin-straight path didn’t seem like an option; however, here I am, writing this piece at the end of my gap year.

    Looking back, I don’t remember the exact moment I said, “Hey, mom and dad, I’m taking a year between high school and college.” Because this option did not pop up on my radar until eleventh grade, the only way to describe my decision is as the perfect collision of four distinct circumstances. First: at the end of my junior year, certain projects arose that I was extremely passionate about pursuing. However, I knew that juggling these opportunities with the intensity of school would be extremely challenging. Second: in the fall of my senior year, my family hosted two young women, Priya and Winona, who were in the middle of taking gap years to travel the country, interview people about their intersectional identities, and write a book on racial literacy. Third: I met Abby Falik, the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, an organization dedicated to making bridge years between high school and university a socially acceptable norm. Fourth: after continuously pushing myself throughout high school and becoming co-valedictorian, I was afraid of burning out.

    So, I committed to Barnard College of Columbia University in New York last spring and asked for a deferral of admission, elucidating my gap year plans. Barnard approved my request, I filled out a one-page form, and just like that, I was taking a gap year.

    And so the year began.
    In the summer, I worked part-time jobs and saved some money.
    In the fall, I worked with Sonita Alizadeh, a young activist who uses music as a tool to catalyze social change, particularly looking to end the detrimental traditional practice of child marriage. Through my work with her and a nonprofit, Strongheart Group, I conducted research, interviewed young activists from around the world, and traveled to the United Nations Foundation’s Social Good Summit in New York City.

    In the winter, I started focusing on curating a book about the next generation of young women. Formatted as a collection of essays, I will write about half of the chapters and other teen girls will write the rest. From omnipresent social media to an extremely divided political climate to gun violence, this book will speak to the most pressing, serious issues my generation is facing on our journey to adulthood. Learning through doing, I taught myself how to write a book proposal, draft a query letter, reach out to agents, and build a website.

    In the spring, I was extremely fortunate to travel to Colombia, where I practiced my Spanish, attended a women’s conference, and shadowed an incredible nonprofit, Juanfe, that works with teen moms in Cartagena. And, coincidentally, I met another teen who is taking a gap year to live in South American cities, work, become fluent in Spanish, and volunteer. I have also spent the spring loving (pretty much) every second of learning how to write a book.

    The other key aspect of this year is that, having struggled with a chronic illness since the seventh grade, I made time to see doctors and get necessary testing. While I still do not know the root cause of my health issues, I am better equipped to manage my symptoms and look after my own well being: two things I did not prioritize in middle and high school.

    And that is my gap year in a nutshell.

    Let me just say that taking this year and venturing from the extremely narrow life path I had envisioned has been one of my best decisions. From around the time I could walk, I was in school five days a week, seven hours a day. For 15 years, being a student was absolutely core to my identity.

    Spending a year outside the classroom has given me time to nurture other facets of my persona: I am an activist, daughter, employee, friend, sister, and global citizen.

    I will be attending university this fall. Contrary to what is sometimes believed about gap years, I will be going back to school with an immensely stronger sense of self, more direction, and a readiness to return to the classroom. I could not be more ecstatic to finish my book throughout freshman year and continue to grow as a person.

    Gap years are not for everyone, but they should be considered a viable alternative to going straight to college. My hope is that society recognizes the immense possibilities bridge years can hold.

    Originally published by Rowland Hall, a Salt Lake City preK–12 school inspiring students to lead lives of learning and purpose.

  • GirlSpring.com, STEM, Technology, Woman's History

    Women’s History Month Highlights STEM w/Three Inspiring Engineers!

    Women's History Month Highlights STEM

    Three Inspiring Women Engineers

    In the workforce, only 13% of engineers are women. However, it is an industry that is booming. In the past 5 years there has been a 54% increase in the number of women graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in engineering. When you are deciding what to study in college, engineering is an excellent career choice that is continually moving forward as technology advances. Just consider – you too can follow in the footsteps of some of the most inspiring women in engineering’s history.

    Paige Kassalen

    Paige Kassalen worked on the first ever solar powered plane, Solar Impulse II. She is an electrical engineer that was part of the ground crew. The plane itself flew all the way around the world without using any fossil fuel at all. It is this kind of engineering that will change the world and help the environment. In 2017, Kassalen was listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, as not only the youngest woman, but the only engineer. To get a career in electrical engineering, you need excellent skills in math and an understanding of how to apply this to the practical world. You can always improve your math skills by taking free courses and using flash cards before college. It could help you on your way to a very inspiring career.

    Katherine Johnson

    Katherine Johnson had a long and prestigious career with NASA, changing the opinions and attitudes of Americans in a very difficult period of history, where segregation was still the norm. As an African American woman, she paved the way for the next generation in engineering, proving that if you study hard, you can achieve greatness despite prejudice. You just need to watch the movie Hidden Figures to understand how important the work that she did was. Johnson calculated launch windows, trajectories and even back-up return paths for so many missions, including the 1969 Apollo 11 mission and Project Mercury. She is proof that if you have enough determination and passion, you can succeed.

    Victoria Drummond MBE

    Victoria Drummond was the very first British marine engineer. She served during WWII in the British Merchant Navy as Chief Engineer. In fact Drummond was even awarded the Lloyd’s War Medal for Bravery at Sea, following her bravery and sheer gumption whilst under fire. She inspired a younger generation of women to aspire to careers in naval engineering – a job that was previously considered to be off limits for women.

    Engineering is a future-proof career choice within so many different industries, from aeronautics to computing. When you are considering college, how about making engineering one of your options?

     

  • Human Trafficking, Local

    Human Trafficking – When Evil Hides in Plain Sight

    Human Trafficking

    Human Trafficking

    When Evil Hides in Plain Sight

    By Maggie Thompson

    There are more human slaves today than ever before in history.

    Generating up to $35 billion annually, human trafficking has become one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century. In the United States (U.S.), there is a 147-mile stretch of Interstate 20 between Atlanta, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama called “Sex Trafficking Superhighway.”

    Shockingly, 40% of human trafficking in the U.S. happens in the South. This is primarily due to the surrounding international travel hubs such as Atlanta and Houston. Although trafficking is so globally prevalent, it remains in the shadows of society. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) African American Studies program hosted a documentary screening and panel discussion on human trafficking in September (2017). Carlon Harris, an African American studies major and graduating senior, made and presented the documentary. 

    Through his research, Harris is hoping to transform the subject of human trafficking to an everyday conversation piece by localizing the issue and bringing awareness to the people of Birmingham. “Human trafficking happens 365 days of the year. So basically it can happen anytime, anywhere. Most victims, they will pass you,” Harris stated in an interview with Birmingham’s WBRC Fox 6 News. Kathy Taylor, a survivor, and human trafficking advocate is the center of Harris’ documentary. On camera, Taylor answered questions and shared some of her own experiences as a trafficking victim including the fact that her victimization began on a college campus.

    After the screening, panelists discussed the issues that accompany human trafficking, the steps law enforcement is taking towards prevention and what the public can do to help. The panelists included: Helen Smith of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sergeant Anthony Williams of Birmingham Police Department and Dr. Robert Blanton, UAB Professor of Government. 

    Human trafficking, which is fueled by poverty and gender discrimination, is estimated to surpass the drug trade industry in less than five years.

    Subsequently, traffickers are becoming more powerful and knowledgeable as society continues to allow the submergence of the massive issue modern slavery has become. Although it is primarily men that run this trade, women are also included. Pimps and Johns are common names for these men and women. They control and terrorize these victims. Victimizers use fraud, force and coercion to lure their victims into captivity, sometimes even using victims as bait.

    However, not all traffickers look or act the same.

    Human trafficking does not discriminate and it is nowhere near being transparent. Therefore, anyone can become a victim or a victimizer. Some victims find that their only option toward escape is to become a victimizer themselves and view the “promotion” from prostitute to pimp as a natural process.

    In conclusion, creating awareness is the first step towards ending human trafficking.

    Panels and organized events that educate the public on the facts of human trafficking can act as a gateway to major prevention as well as putting an end to what has become the greatest human rights challenges of this century. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Institute for Human Rights is working hard to promote prevention and awareness by informing students on the indicators of human trafficking and how to identify and help a potential victim.

    If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.
    For tips on how to stay safe and aware of your surroundings, click here, https://www.girlspring.com/?s=Human+Trafficking
    And for the Human Trafficking Hotline site, click here.
  • Fashion

    Finding Your Personal Style

    Style Coach, Megan LaRussa on how to simplify finding your personal style

    Style Coach, Megan LaRussa on how to simplify finding your personal style

    Finding your personal style is hard, watch this video with style coach Megan LaRussa and learn how to do it!

    Megan is a style coach based in Birmingham, Alabama. However, she travels the world to find the best clothes for her clients! Check out Megan’s other style tips here, https://www.girlspring.com/holiday-style-megan-larussa/

    Likewise, check out her personal website here for more tips!

  • Confidence, Goals

    New Year’s Resolutions or New Year’s Goals?

    New Year’s Resolutions or New Year’s Goals?

    New Year’s Resolutions or New Year’s Goals?

    by Maya Kitchens, GirlSpring Springboarder

    It’s the time of year when we realize just how committed we are to our resolutions and goals!

    Having New Year’s Resolutions are very common for people as the clock strikes midnight on the night of December 31st and the early morning of January 1st. I myself have had New Year’s Resolutions, however, I have broken them pretty quickly. I’ve decided to call these “New Year’s Resolutions” something different. I’ve decided to call them “New Year’s Goals” instead. To me, goal sounds more positive than a resolution. The term “new year, new me” is very popular, but I don’t necessarily want to change, I want to accomplish more. Going into the New Year, don’t change yourself, maybe change the way you look at life. I’m going into 2019 with a more positive outlook on life, which in turn will make me more successful.  

     

     

     

    Read more posts on GirlSpring here!