By Jennifer Winkler
Members of the Girls’ Advisory Council from the Alice Paul Institute visited the College’s Women in Learning and Leadership freshman seminar program called “Rebel Girls” on Sept. 26, and it proved to be a beneficial experience on both ends.
Chris Meyers, the program director for the Alice Paul Institute, along with members of the Girls’ Advisory Council, 16-year-old Myranda Zanol-Pacheco and 15-year-old Sarah Hojsak, presented the purpose of their program and the activism they have been involved in regarding gender equality.
The presentation explained that the Alice Paul Institute, located in Mount Laurel (the birth place of the iconic women’s suffragist, Alice Paul), is a 30-year-old organization dedicated to women’s rights. The institute provides opportunities for girls and women to get involved in women’s rights activism, as well as establish leadership skills and influential female role-models for the members of their programs.
The GAC was formed eight years ago. It is comprised of girls ages 13-17 who volunteer for the institute and partake in various forms of activism. The members attend the annual Equality Awards in which current equal rights activists are recognized, as well as women’s studies conferences in various places around the country. Two years ago the GAC also shared their council with young women in Uganda through an exchange program they created, and this year they hope to partake in a similar exchange with young women in Madagascar.
In the past, members of the council have also gotten the opportunity to interview and speak with modern-day equal rights activists, along with government officials such as Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and Senator Robert Menendez of N.J. Additionally, they have recently been recognized by Nickelodeon for their efforts, and will be featured on one of the network’s shows in the future. The members of the GAC are currently working on establishing a blog, which they will update weekly sharing their experiences and thoughts on topics related to their cause.
Due to the groups’ similar efforts and convictions, the GAC girls and members of “Rebel Girls” found that they had a lot in common. Professor Emily Bent, a College and WILL alumna, started “Rebel Girls” to highlight how girls conduct social change and engage in activist work.
“Seeing girls under the age of 17 going out, and getting nationally recognized from Nickelodeon is cool,” said Peri Roshandel, freshman math major. “At API (the Alice Paul Institute) they offer opportunities that usually public schools and high schools don’t offer.”
The students enjoyed learning about the activism the GAC girls have been involved in and were enlightened by their experiences.
“I think it was great that we got to hear what young activists are doing, it’s definitely inspiring because we’re learning about it in the class room, while they’re actually doing it,” said Krista Liotti, freshman international studies major.
Overall, the members of the GAC and the WILL FSP correlated perfectly and allowed an opportunity for the women to discuss their similar plights. The GAC girls and the Alice Paul Institute left a lasting impression on the “rebels.”