By Katie Curran, Founder & President, ProjectNextGeneration.org, Columbia University student
You are never too young to create change. In fact, the brains of young people are biologically engineered to find innovative solutions to today’s pressing problems. Youth offer an unparalleled perspective that we should share with others.
I am making my mark on gender equality. In 2013, I founded ProjectNextGeneration.org, an international youth empowerment program for middle school students. I strive to inspire the next generation of girls to be bold, brave and socially-conscious leaders through tuition-free educational workshops, with the hope of promoting gender equality for generations to come. ProjectNextGeneration.org’s mission is to engage and inspire the next generation of young global leaders to affect positive change worldwide. I am fulfilled when I teach young people the importance of volunteering and attending college because their success motivates me. Girls can do anything they set their mind to!
I feel overjoyed each time I see my impressionable students dream bigger and speak louder. From local Girl Scout Troops to disadvantaged girls in India, I have had a global impact on the lives of youth in their formative years. My personal goal is to raise my voice for low-income students through volunteerism. My work has reached 42,000 youth online.
Under the umbrella of my organization, I graduated a group of Global Youth Ambassadors in a model United Nations program. Students were assigned a country that they represented during diplomatic debate. Each student learned phrases in their country’s language. At the workshop, students explored how they could raise their voice through volunteerism. I found it rewarding to establish a platform where students could discuss gender inequality and expanding education for girls.
I recently had a one-on-one conversation with Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail about the state of women. Holding Hillary Clinton’s hand, I shared with her my goal to run for President. She kindly responded, “I hope to break the glass ceiling for you.” This moment reaffirmed to me that no matter what obstacles come my way, I never stop dreaming and achieving.
I have learned that youth are our greatest resource in the world. If enough lives are invigorated, the whole globe can be positively influenced. My life is enhanced through the distinct perspectives I encounter while volunteering. I am enlightened each time I mentor youth. Seeing my students win student council elections and spearhead community service projects makes me proud. I love speaking about the successes of politically conscious and community-minded students because their energy motivates me.
We must never let age serve as an excuse that we are “too young” to impact others. Whether 7 or 17 years of age, we all serve as vital voices for causes that affect us the most. Young people should embrace their age and raise their voice.
Join the movement at: ProjectNextGeneration.org