Starting college, Stephanie Nava wanted to do more than just attend classes, she wanted to be involved in her community. She heard about IGNITE through her friend who was a program participant during high school. During her time in college, she and her friend decided to start the first San Antonio chapter at their university. Soon after, Stephanie realized she wanted to be a leader in her community, and applied to become the next San Antonio Fellow.
“I wanted to make a difference and continue to grow within the organization. I wanted to motivate more young women in the community to run for office,” says Stephanie.
For Stephanie, one of the best parts of being an IGNITE Fellow was getting to connect with and inspire the young women who would come to her events. “Knowing that those young women would then go out there and make a difference was amazing,” she shares. She was also inspired by meeting trailblazers in her area who looked like her, something she didn’t see while growing up.
Her favorite memory from the Fellowship was the Fellows retreat, a time where all the Fellows from across the country came together for a chance to connect on a deeper level. “The Fellows have helped me grow so much. Even when I feel insecure, I know that I have a group of people I can talk to who will support me and be happy for me.”
Stephanie shares that she has grown as a leader throughout her time as a Fellow, and that being with IGNITE has shaped her career path going forward. She always thought she wanted to be a lawyer, but throughout this experience has realized she wants to work in spaces that allow her to build a community. “Fostering a community is important to me, because through the power of community, you can make real, lasting change.”
As for her future, she wants to continue advocacy work while staying connected as an IGNITE alumni. She also has a passion for public health and education, especially knowing the link those areas have to politics. “Providing people with those resources will make such a huge difference in their lives.”
Eventually, Stephanie wants to run for office, something that she never would have thought of without her experience at IGNITE. “Even if you don’t want to run for office, the Fellowship is an opportunity for growth. You’ll learn how to foster relationships and you’ll walk away with so many new skills. It’s an amazing experience that you have to be part of to fully realize what it means.”
Want to become an IGNITE Fellow? Learn more here.