As our 15th and most recent college graduate, Shelby earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Management Services with a minor in Psychology from 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 a 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, Shelby 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 explained. “I wanted to teach them that they could be one of those women, too.”
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 she is now a Girls Hope alumna, Shelby 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 was her Residential Counselor, Sister Elaine.
“Even if there were times that I was totally wrong, Sister Elaine always vouched for me,” Shelby explained. 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 during her adolescence, her fellow Girls Hope scholars also left a lasting impression.
“Baden felt like a home,” Shelby said. “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, the other scholars became her dear friends, and 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, as she recently completed Basic Combat Training as a soldier in the U.S. Army. Currently, she is enrolled in Officer Candidate Training and looking forward to the next adventure her bright future holds for her.