Kalee Nielsen, an Ohio University sophomore, has brought a new organization to campus, specifically an organization all about empowering women. I AM THAT GIRL (IATG) is a student organization that acts as a support system for women. IATG is a safe place where women are free to express and love that they are without limitations. It is a place to have discussion about things that matter, and to turn self-doubt into self-love.
Nielsen originally heard about the organization while writing an exploratory research paper on the self-esteem and self-worth of women in college. Her professor for the class, Amanda Hayes, inspired Nielsen with the idea that our generation is “informed but inactive,” when it comes to things we want to change. After a lot of thinking, Nielsen thought to herself, was she going to follow this stereotype? No, she chose to break it.
But how was she going to make an impact? Well, by the end of writing the paper, she decided the best way to overcome this problem was to create a safe place where women could work together to overcome struggles, and become empowered. Nielsen had done an assembly in high school similar to this for high school and middle school girls, but there wasn’t anything quite like it on our college campus.
Nielsen began researching organizations that had the ideals and values she had in mind, and this is where she came across IATG. After researching the organization, she mad the choice to bring it to Ohio University’s campus. She wanted to bring IATG to campus because college has the ability to put immense pressure and expectations on women. This makes having an outlet for women to express themselves very important.
Nielsen was successful to bringing it to Ohio University this fall. She is the official founder, and current “Chapter Leader,” or in other words, the president of IATG. As her role of Chapter Leader and founder, Nielsen is responsible with being the main source of communication between the Ohio University chapter and I AM THAT GIRL HQ, running the chapter’s social media accounts, choosing meeting topics and creating agendas, leading group meetings, and getting the word of IATG out around campus.
So what exactly happens at the meetings? To start off, at the beginning of every meeting the member start off playing “popcorn” where every member says one reason they are “THAT” or a “BAD ASS” that week. After everyone has a chance to say something, they move into discussion. Discussion can include anything along the lines of self-love, body image, cultural issues, and many other topics. IATG HQ provides chapters with curriculum that gives a long list of diverse topics to cover. The discussions are meant to be a place to open up. “Essentially, we are challenging women to talk about the hard things, reflect, and become inspired to make differences for themselves and for their community,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen hopes by bringing this organization to our campus that it will help change the culture of campus. She recognizes that women at times seem to have a “shell,” but she wants to help women break free from it. Nielsen wants IATG to be a place where women can all come together, and realize that we are much similar than we think, and we all face troubles similar to each other. “My dream for I AM THAT GIRL at Ohio University is to reach as many hearts as possible,” and “It has 100% changed my life in so many ways I never thought possible,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen has loved seeing how women have been able to open up at the meetings thus far. She was originally nervous that members would be too afraid to express themselves and their opinions, but that has not been the case. Nielsen expresses gratitude for how passionate and loving the members are at the meetings, “It truly defies so many gender stereotypes.” Nielsen loves the positive messages the organization is able to spread among women.
For the future of IATG, Nielsen hopes that other women become as passionate about this organization as she is. She hopes more and more women give the organization a chance, and that even after they leave, she hopes they bring their positive experiences and lessons they learned with them throughout their lives. Kalee also hopes to become philanthropy involved next year by possibly creating partnerships with local women’s shelters and other local places in Appalachia. Nielsen said, “My dream for IATG at Ohio University is to reach as many hearts as possible.”
If you’re interested in getting involved:
You can get involved in two ways:
1. I AM THAT GIRL Ohio University chapter meet on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in Tupper Hall 204,
2. Become a part of I AM THAT GIRL in the online community at https://www.iamthatgirl.com/join.
IATG will start meeting up after winter break on January 13 at 8 p.m. They will also be in the Winter Campus Involvement Fair on January 19 from 6-8 p.m.