For many Emory students, the question of whether or not to go to college was never even a consideration; going was a given. For many people around the world, and specifically girls, access to education is limited for a variety of reasons, one which Emory’s chapter of the national organization She’s The First (STF) seeks to ameliorate.
STF is a nonprofit organization with 125 college chapters across the country that raise funds to educate girls in 10 different developing nations: Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, South Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia and Uganda.
[quote_colored name=”” icon_quote=”no”]“These are the future leaders of their country.” [/quote_colored]
[/padding]When College freshman Vy Nguyen contacted the national headquarters of STF as a high school senior, they informed her that a chapter already existed at her future college, Emory. College senior Jiny Lee started Emory’s chapter of STF in the summer of 2013.
“I was surprised Emory didn’t have it already,” said Lee, whose older sister started a chapter at her own university.
Last summer, Nguyen and Lee met at the STF annual summit in New York City. The organization now has six executive board members and 14 marketing committee members. Lee will pass the torch of president along to Nguyen after she graduates.
A self-proclaimed “strong feminist,” Lee said her interest in founding the chapter came from the importance she places on education in her own life and her belief that every girl in the world should have the same opportunity she has.
“You’re making a direct impact on a girl’s life,” Lee said.
Nguyen is a first-generation college student in her family.
“I’ve never really thought about not going to college,” Nguyen said. “Not a lot of people have that.”
Earlier this week, STF hosted a proceeds night at Which Wich sandwich shop in Emory Point, where 10 percent of every purchase went directly to the national STF organization. Money from STF fundraising events, according to Lee, is 100 percent nonprofit and is sent to STF headquarters, where it is then distributed to partner schools in the 10 countries.
Funds go toward paying for girls’ school tuition, boarding, school supplies and related educational expenses, Lee said. Chapters from every university involved collect the funds to sponsor specific girls. Depending on how much they raise, they receive either full or partial sponsorship of a girl in another country.
“Some of the girls we sponsor, we actually get to communicate with,” Nguyen said, when asked what about STF is unique and rewarding.
According to Lee, STF at Emory raised more than $400 last semester, which went toward fully sponsoring a girl in Nepal and partially sponsoring a girl in Guatemala. She added that last year, the organization partially sponsored a girl in India.
“It’s a lot like pen pals,” Lee said, referring to the club’s ability to write letters to the girls it sponsors.
While a few hundred dollars is not nearly close to providing a long-term education for anyone, it certainly goes a long way, she said.
According to Nguyen, whether a donation amount is enough for a partial or full sponsorship entirely depends on the country in question, particularly its cost of education and living.
She provided the example of Nepal, which requires roughly $300 to sponsor a girl, in contrast with India, which requires roughly $1,600.
Nguyen added that Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity, donated $115 to STF, which was enough to partially sponsor a girl in Guatemala.
STF is currently undergoing the club chartering process, Nguyen said. She added that in addition to being chartered this semester, another goal of the club is to host another fundraising event.
Lee said the most rewarding part of STF is that the results of their efforts are “tangible.”
“These are the future leaders of their country,” Lee concluded.