Meet Chantel Castelino, fourth year student from Vancouver and president of She’s the First McGill. While she’s an Anatomy and Cell Biology major, Chantel wishes to pursuit a minor in Sociology, which stems from her mother’s passion for social studies. Along with Sociology, Chantel has always had this drive to help others, which she did through various volunteering experiences. Here at McGill, She’s The First is her way of making it possible.
She’s the First (STF) is “an organization that issues scholarships for girls in low income countries operating through 225 chapters, with our chapter being the first in Canada.” Why STF? For Chantel, it was a way to not only put into practice all those leadership skills she acquired in previous years, but also to make a difference on campus and somewhere in the world. Through the position of Global Citizenship Chair she held last year, Chantel was able to discuss various issues with the McGill community, which is one of her passions, as she believes that “our voices carry great power”. Hence, running for president of the chapter reminded her of the blessings of education. Since “to whom much is given, much is required”, Chantel wants to use her education and her voice to make a change in other girls’ lives.
STF gains their funds through fundraisings, and the McGill chapter collected $1800 last year, which will allow the full sponsorship of a girl in any of the 11 countries that STF operates within. Winning the Kaplan Cares Contest, where STF got to auction a prep course, was also a great boost. “This month, our most popular fundraising is coming up, the Bake A Change bake sale, where we sell cute and yummy tie-dye cupcakes”. They are also running a coffee house, where there will be various volunteers to showcase their talents, which will also take place during the year.
But there is more. “Aside from the financial aspect of it, at STF we not only seek to bring awareness on the issues women face when it comes to accessing education, but we also want girls to be empowered and to be able to be given the opportunity to go to school.”
While the focus of the organization is on girls and their education, Chantel assures us that STF also includes males in the discussion. “For example, we have a project coming up, where we will go and discuss these issues in all-boys schools. The purpose is to get these boys engaged and made aware of these girls’ situations, so that they also have the power to change things”.
STF for Chantel is a “way to counter this notion that education is a privilege rather than a right”. As this year’s president, she wishes to use this opportunity to make a change in someone else’s life.
Pictures provided by interviewee.