Girls Hope’s most recent college graduate, Shelby, earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Health Management Services Carlow University in December 2016. While her college days may be behind her, it is no surprise that when she reflects on her time spent earning her degree, her memories are a lot more than simply sitting in a classroom.
In true Girls Hope fashion, Shelby juggled a multitude of extracurricular activities, in addition to her full course load throughout her college career. Not only did she complete an internship at Northwestern Mutual, but she competed on Carlow’s cross-country team (for which she earned a scholarship), and was an active participant in a “talk time” program, where she built long-lasting partnerships with students around the world as she helped them develop skills in the English language. Despite her busy schedule, she still found time to mentor young women through Strong Women Strong Girls.
“I enjoyed teaching them about women who have made a difference in the world,” Shelby said. “I wanted to teach them that they could be one of those women, too.”
None of this would have been possible without the generosity of many friends. Shelby attributes her passion for mentoring young girls to her own personal experience with the mentor she was matched with through Girls Hope’s mentoring program. While Shelby is now a Girls Hope alumna, she still maintains a close relationship with her mentor.
“To this day, the mentor I was paired with and I still talk,” Shelby said. “She has reviewed my resume, given me recommendations, and has even helped me move out of my college apartment. With Strong Women Strong Girls, I tried to take what I have learned from my mentor and use it to be a positive role model for other young women.”
While her mentor provided her with a fresh perspective and diverse experiences, Shelby rarely had to
look far to find a strong female role model. It was her fellow scholars and residential counselors inside of the Baden house who taught her that if she wanted to do something, she absolutely could. One of these women who perhaps had the largest impact on her young adult life was her residential counselor, Sister Elaine of the Sisters of Humility of Mary.
“Even if there were times that I was totally wrong, Sister Elaine always vouched for me,” Shelby said. “She made me feel important, and she was there for the important moments in my young adult life.”
Although residential counselors like Sister Elaine played a crucial role in Shelby’s life during adolescence, her fellow Girls Hope scholars also left a lasting impression.
“Baden felt like a home,” Shelby explained. “And the girls in that home were like sisters to me. Even if I don’t see some of them for a while, when I do see them, it’s as if we could pick up where we left off. We have a natural understanding with each other, and we share memories. You can still find us making jokes about silly things that happened in the house.”
As residential counselors provided Shelby with a stable and nurturing home environment and scholars took on roles as friends and confidants, Girls Hope’s program curriculum and partnership with Quigley Catholic High School prepared her for a successful college career.
“They started talking to us about college at a young age,” Shelby said of Girls Hope. “They helped us with essays, they provided tutors, and they helped us to develop a consistent, comfortable, and structured mindset to get homework done and study for tests. They prepared me to discipline myself through school and part-time jobs. I learned to put effort and time into what I was doing.”
All of Shelby’s effort and self-discipline has paid off. Since graduating from Carlow, she has not only enrolled in the U.S. Army, but she has completed basic training. Currently, Shelby is enrolled in Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning.