Our mission for IGNITE at UC Davis is to empower young womxn to become civically engaged in their communities and ultimately pursue positions of leaderships. In doing so, last quarter we had the wonderful opportunity to engage in high school outreach with students from Ceiba Preparatory High School, a charter school located in Watsonville, CA. The majority of the young womxn were Latinx and several of them were part of their school’s womxn’s empowerment club, which they recently established. It was extremely inspiring to see how driven they were in taking initiative within their own high school by addressing the need to challenge patriarchy and create a safe space for girls to uplift and support one another.
In preparation upon our meeting with them, we collaborated on a script, a guideline of sorts, for our talk with the young womxn to inform them about the work of the National IGNITE organization and our UC Davis chapter specifically. We expected maybe 10 or 15 girls to show up. However, we were shocked and amazed to see, that approximately 35 young womxn had come to visit our campus and spend their valuable time with us to hear about the work that we passionately do. We greeted them with cheerful smiles and open arms. After we went through our informative presentation, we asked opened the floor for questions. Immediately their hands shot up, asking us a wide range of questions ranging from the vibes at UC Davis to our personal stories, our trajectory, our adjustment process from high school to college, and our growth as young womxn.
Most importantly, what we tried to convey and emphasize in our responses was how essential it is for young womxn of color to get involved in politics and leadership. Not only is their involvement necessary to bring about change that they hope to see in their own community, but it is very much necessary in order to perpetuate the cycle of empowered womxn inspiring each other to strive for success and representation. No one else will represent them, knows their struggles and needs, like themselves. Many of these young girls have been underrepresented, underserved, and, most importantly, underestimated.
We know that these girls can make a difference when they find their voice; each and every one of them, and each and every one of us, has enormous power and strength to do anything that we invest our hearts and minds to. It is a privilege to be a part of an organization like IGNITE, which supports us with the confidence to find that voice and exercise that strength through a supportive network and leadership training to make a difference in the issues that matter most to us, to grow and advocate. It gives us a spark of motivation to be able to share that with as many young womxn that we possibly can.
Loata Fine & Greta Anders