MHC's eighth annual Take the Lead program for female high school students is now accepting nominations for next fall's program, which will run September 27-30. Young women in their sophomore year of high school may be nominated by their guidance counselors, principals, teachers, religious or community leaders, or other adult mentors. Nominations are due April 10.
Forty young women will be selected for Take the Lead based on their passion and potential to promote social change. Participants will build their leadership skills by attending workshops, working with MHC student mentors, and listening to successful women leaders. They will each develop an action plan to address an issue of concern to them.
Past Take the Lead graduates have undertaken exciting and worthwhile projects. Shaina Muñoz, for example, initiated and cotaught a seminar at her high school on diversity that was written up in the September 2006 issue of COSMO Girl! "We talked about race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and topics like immigration and women in media," she said. "Students did projects that forced them to leave their comfort zones."
Another Take the Lead graduate, Emilie Kimball of Washington, DC, took action on several fronts to raise money for Women in Progress (WIP), a women's organization in Ghana that helps women entrepreneurs start or sustain micro businesses in Cape Coast, Ghana. First, Kimball staffed a WIP booth at the Green Festival at the Washington Convention Center to help sell colorful batik clothes made by the Ghanaian businesses. She then sold $1,600 worth of clothes in December at a Christmas bazaar at her brother's school. In the spring, she organized a WIP fundraiser and persuaded Ghana's ambassador in Washington to host and support the event. Kimball arranged Ghanaian entertainment and catering from a local Ghanaian café, and ultimately exceeded her goal of $15,000, raising $26,000 for the women's group.
Kimball said that part of what made Take The Lead so much fun was connecting with other girls who were formulating ambitious plans. "It helped me realize that I could help change the world on a bigger scale," she said.
That realization is exactly what Take the Lead is designed to spark, noted Patricia VandenBerg, program director and founder and Mount Holyoke's executive director of communications and strategic initiatives. "Take the Lead aims to help young women transform ideals into action," VandenBerg said. "It's designed to show them that they are capable of achieving goals well beyond what they have imagined."
Members of the MHC community are invited to nominate up to three women who are now in their sophomore year of high school. President Joanne V. Creighton will write a letter of congratulations to each nominee and invite her to apply. Take the Lead brochures and nomination forms have been distributed. The completed forms should be returned via campus mail by April 10.