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‘An Idea is Worthless if You Do Not Make it Happen’

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This is the essay Sarah Gould wrote as part of her application for USA Today’s All-USA College Academic Team

As a young woman devoted to pursuing gender equality and promoting female leadership within communities, I designed an organization devoted to encouraging female participation and success in colleges, careers, and communities.

The Society of Young Women Leaders (SYWL) is a leadership and mentoring organization that focuses on the leadership and professional development of high school and college women. The SYWL assists high school women with pursuing college careers and provides college women with opportunities to enhance their college educations with experiences that fuse classroom knowledge with civic issues. The SYWL provides opportunities for students to “own” their learning—to act upon their knowledge and create new epistemologies and deeper understandings of who they are, what they value, and what they want to make happen in the world.

I was inspired to create the Society of Young Women Leaders because I saw an absence on my college campus of any organization that cultivates the talent of young women to prepare them for success in their futures. I believe it is necessary for young women to be equally prepared to be equally present in the work force and community leadership. SYWL members develop their own sense of powerful leadership through community engagement, political activism and participation, and special programs aligned with the goals of the Society’s members. The SYWL creates a bridge between the community’s youth and the college campus, breaking the “college bubble” barrier and creating growth opportunities for both high school and college students.

I have partnered with several non-profit organizations such as Georgetown Partners in Education and the Georgetown chapter of the American Business Women’s Association. These partnerships have helped further the goals of the SYWL and provided the members with unique resources to expand on the knowledge they are building in SYWL meetings. The young women of the Society utilize these resources in completing several “Major Issue” projects that are meant to channel the members’ passions into tangible accomplishments as well as draw attention to political and social issues relevant to women. My intention in making these projects a requirement of the program was to encourage young women to act on their personal passions, broaden their understanding of the world around them, and intentionally craft ways to bring forth productive change.

Throughout my college experience, I have quickly come to learn that while one might have a great idea, an idea is worthless if you do not make it happen. The Society of Young Women Leaders started as an idea and is now an organization unlike any other on college campuses in the country. I have devoted two years to designing and establishing the Society of Young Women Leaders and have grown the program to include thirty members. I have identified new leadership to ensure the sustainment and continued growth of the program and I have prepared the Society’s high school members to take the concept of the Society of Young Women Leaders and begin chapters at their chosen universities.