Young Women’s Initiative Alumnae Spotlight
Hot off the press! Read the Springfield Young Women’s Initiative Blueprint for Action 2021
As the new school year begins, we took the opportunity to catch up with some of our recent Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) alumnae. Our Community Investments Manager, Nicole Young, spoke with three young women who participated in the fourth cohort to hear what they learned from the program and insight on their future educational and career plans.
Blanca Amaya is a junior at Springfield Honors Academy. She is a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and serves as a mentor for first-year students. Blanca will be joining JROTC this coming semester. She plans to become an immigration attorney, prompted by being the daughter of an immigrant and expanding upon research and essays she has read and written on the topic in school.
“One thing that helped inform my career choice was realizing how big the Hispanic community is in Springfield and how much immigration issues affect so many families,” Blanca comments. “There are so many people who fear deportation and not having the proper protections on the job and in life. I want to help people in understanding their rights and protecting their families.”
”“There are so many people who fear deportation and not having the proper protections on the job and in life. I want to help people in understanding their rights and protecting their families.”Blanca Amaya
Blanca says that by participating in YWI, she regained a sense of hope and faith in humanity since she met many other young women interested in social change. While in the program, Blanca also learned more about the poverty rate in the region and about organizations working towards curbing the rising homeless population. Upon graduating from high school, Blanca wants to attend college and major in criminal justice. The colleges she is considering include Anna Maria College, Boston University, Yale University, and Albertus Magnus College; Anna Maria is currently her first choice.
”“Through YWI, I learned more about philanthropy and how this type of funding can change communities.”Brianna D’Haiti
Brianna D’Haiti is a senior at Springfield College majoring in Criminal Justice and Computer Science with a minor in Religion. She participates in the Black Student Union and Art for Activism club. She serves as a coordinator for the Cultural Connections Leadership Program and was recently elected as co-president of the Student Alumni Association. During the summer, she worked as a camp counselor at Camp Corey in Rochester, NY.
Brianna is interested in becoming a lawyer or a judge and wishes to pursue a dual degree graduate program in law and organizational leadership. Upon graduating from Springfield College, Brianna wants to take a gap year to complete a year of service and volunteer in the community.
“I have always been invested in mission-driven work,” says Brianna. “Through YWI, I learned more about philanthropy and how this type of funding can change communities. I want to do more research on philanthropy and the importance of anchor institutions in cities.”
During the program, Brianna learned more about food insecurity and about asthma and public health in Springfield. She enjoyed having an opportunity to talk with other young people about these issues and appreciated how much people care about the city.
Elyssa Parrish received her bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Springfield College this past spring. While at Springfield College, she was involved as a multicultural recruitment admissions counselor and was a recipient of a Jesse L. Parks Scholarship. While participating in YWI, Elyssa worked part-time as a junior staff accountant for Astro Chemicals. Since May 24, she has been working as a budget analyst for the City of Springfield.
Since finishing YWI, Elyssa has become more passionate about climate change, women’s reproductive issues, and race relations. She sees herself becoming more involved in a philanthropic program where she can give back to her community. “Through the YWI program, I learned that there is a vast community of women leaders who support each other, even in a world where we aren’t always valued and respected,” Elyssa says. “I learned that as an Afro-Latina woman, it is important to understand that activism can be multi-dimensional. I can be very passionate about plenty of things, and I am. I don’t have to just pick one.”
”“I learned that as an Afro-Latina woman, it is important to understand that activism can be multi-dimensional. I can be very passionate about plenty of things, and I am. I don’t have to just pick one.”Elyssa Parrish
Recruitment for this year’s YWI program has just begun! If you know a Springfield-based, young woman of color, age 16-24 years old who would benefit from participating in this program, please complete this nomination form. For more information on this year’s program, please contact Stephanie Steed at firstname.lastname@example.org.