Here at McGill, it’s easy to find yourself complaining about how much your life sucks after scanning your over-stuffed syllabi, or seeing the daunting line-up of midterms marked on your already-too-full calendar. Yes, even while attending one of the top 25 universities in the world it is easy to fall into the trap of taking one’s privilege for granted, forgetting that less-advantaged youth across the globe would kill to be standing in our Montreal road-salt stained shoes.
Luckily, one brand new club on campus is here to remind us of how lucky we are to be receiving such an outstanding education, and to stand up for young girls in third world countries who have not been granted these same opportunities. This week we spoke with Rebeca Cipollitti, Nancy Kanwal, and Fanta Kamara, three incredible ladies who just happen to be the heads of McGill’s chapter of She’s the First. Read on to discover why they’re so passionate about their positions, and why you should come to their first meeting!
Hannah Chubb for Her Campus McGill (HC McGill): Hey girls! Thanks so much for doing this interview for us. First off, can you each tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Rebeca Cipollitti (RC): I’m a U3 student studying Environment and History and I’m from Venezuela. When I’m not consumed by readings, I love to do yoga and go to talks.
Nancy Kanwal (NK): I’m a U3 student studying Political Science and Anthropology. I’m from Toronto and I’m really interested in international and humanitarian affairs.
Fanta Kamara (FK): I’m a U2 student studying Economics. I’m originally from Sierra Leone, but I’ve lived all around the world, so I don’t really have a hometown. I’m really interested in humanitarian affairs, social change and pilates.
HC McGill: Can you tell us about the She’s the First initiative and what it aims to do?
FK: She’s the First is a not-for-profit organization that provides scholarships so that girls in low-income countries can receive an education. In doing so, She’s the First aims to break the cycle of poverty and empower women.
HC McGill: What makes each of you passionate about this project?
RC: For me, there are also a lot of environmental benefits associated with girls’ education. But most importantly, an education empowers girls to make their own decisions, which will have positive impact on their communities.
NK: For me, it’s the fact that it’s usually the first generation of females in the family to have the opportunity to go to school; an opportunity they might not have had otherwise.
FK: I feel like I’m personally affected because of the situation in Sierra Leone, where a law was recently passed banning pregnant girls from going to school. The girls often got pregnant by no choice of their own because of the dire situation caused by the Ebola crisis. Ever since I heard about this, I felt the need to do something, so when I heard about She’s the First, via Her Campus, I thought it was the perfect way to get involved in making education more accessible to girls.
HC McGill: This is the first year that She’s the First has been at McGill, how do you plan to raise awareness for the budding project?
FK: Social media! We’re planning to advertise and collaborate with other clubs.
NK: We’re also planning on hosting really engaging events on relevant and thought-provoking topics through our Global Awareness Program (GAP).
RC: And don’t forget word of mouth! Tell your friends!
HC McGill: When are meetings and how can people join or get involved?
RC: We’re having our first General Meeting on Wednesday, September 23rd. Everyone is invited. If you’re interested, but can’t make it, message us on Facebook, Twitter or talk to one of us in person. Come out and support us in any way, big or small.
HC McGill: What can members expect from a typical She’s the First meeting?
FK: They can expect an interactive, round-table discussion where their ideas will be heard.
HC McGill: Do you have any specific goals or projects planned for this year?
RC: We have our Bake-A-Change Fundraiser in October and we are thinking of hosting a panel.
FK: We also have a more active, athletic campaign planned for the fall.
HC McGill: A fun question to close it off: what’s your favourite memory from McGill thus far?
RC: Discovering Mac Campus in the fall
NK: I can’t pick one. It’s been great.
FK: It’s between the Her Campus Cocktail Crawl and Fondue Night with Nancy and Rebeca.
Nancy and Fanta at the She’s the First summit!
Images obtained from interviewees.