When Cecilia Ruesta came across IGNITE through an email from her professor over two years ago, she knew she wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to continue helping her community. “What caught my eye in the email was IGNITE’s mission. Empowering young women and trying to reach gender parity is something that I was passionate about as well,” shares Cecilia. She has served as the Central Valley Fellow for over two years.
As a Women’s Studies major and student organizer on campus, Cecilia was already outspoken about a lot of the issues that affect women today, including the lack of representation. However, she wasn’t as interested in politics at the time.
When Cecilia started as an IGNITE Fellow, she was moved by hearing others talk about the same things she would talk about, with the same passion and motivation to create change that she had. “It was great entering a space that was created for women by women. Everyone’s voice is heard and listened to, and it was so refreshing. It felt like home.”
With the help and support of IGNITE, Cecilia started College Chapters in the Central Valley area. Throughout the Fellowship, she has met other young women who have been looking for a space to talk about their political ambition and goals, and watched them own their political power. “One of the College Chapter leaders just ran for Student Government president and that’s been especially amazing to see.”
For Cecilia, the National Young Women Run Conference in D.C. was a life-changing experience. The Fellows play a huge role in the success of the national conference, and Cecilia had the opportunity to introduce Congresswoman Sharice Davids, someone she personally looks up to.
“IGNITE helped me learn about my leadership skills and empowered me to become an even better leader. I was able to build self-confidence and now I know I have the capability to run for office.”
In the future, Cecilia hopes to start her career in counselling while continuing her social justice work. She wants to reassure any young woman thinking of applying to the Fellowship to not doubt themselves. “Even if you’re not political, this is a space for you to learn and grow.”
Interested in becoming an IGNITE Fellow? Learn more here.