New RSO sponsors girls to ‘be the first’ in their families to graduate from secondary school

During her time abroad, Manasi Dave, senior in Engineering, said she was disturbed by a group of siblings selling bracelets on a street in Singapore at 1 a.m. There was a man with them, a man Dave thought was using these children to make a profit.

The boy was around 5 years old and said he had a fever, but his sister told him he needed to “shake it off.” With this, Dave says her personal connection to She’s the First, a new registered student organization, was established, as she would go on to become the membership enrichment chair.

She’s the First was founded this summer, and the RSO attempts to raise money and awareness for girls in developing countries to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school, said Public Relations Director Tori Stukins, junior in Media. The organization aims to help girls find their way out of the dire situations they may face without an education.

She also said they already have some fundraising and promoting experience under their belts. She’s the First is in the process of putting together a bake-off on Oct. 25 and a 5K Race on Oct. 27.

“We’ve already had two Bake A Change cupcake sales on Green Street on Saturday nights. She’s the First’s big niche is selling cupcakes — it’s sort of our icon,” Stukins said. “So, every once in a while we sell homemade cupcakes from our cupcake wagon and raise money for our sponsored girl and our organization.”

The RSO raises money for a girl they sponsor and members write her letters, Stukins said. The money raised by She’s the First helps girls in developing countries be the first in their family to graduate from high school, said Fundraising Chair Melanie Lyman, senior in Engineering.

In soliciting the involvement of other students, Lyman said University students can still relate to the issue of women’s education. She said it speaks to people when they hear how the RSO helps girls.

“Education definitely speaks to college students,” she said. “We’ve all been blessed to be able to go to school our whole lives. It’s something that we take for granted, we complain about it, and we get upset over tests and we don’t realize that people in other countries are literally fighting for the right to learn.”

The executive board members’ passion for their organization’s goal does not translate to a stringently operated RSO. In fact, Dave said board members encourage students to take the lead, and they welcome new ideas.

“Anyone who has an idea about a fundraising event becomes the project leader of their own idea,” she said. “They have a leadership role. If they’re just a general member, they work with me to make sure this event happens.”

Being a senior, Dave speaks for herself, along with other senior executive board members, in saying she wants the RSO to continue to grow once they graduate. In Dave’s case, though, this comes from another personal connection to the issue of women’s education, as she is from Indian descent.

“My grandma had a very difficult time graduating from high school, mainly because she was the oldest, so she was supposed to take care of her younger siblings and make sure they went to school, rather than her go to school,” she said. “Just noticing all the struggles females have been facing everywhere, it got to me. I wanted to leave this university with something that I’m proud of, and so far I’m proud of what we’re doing.”

She said her mom had a lot of difficulty with going through school, mainly because moving to America was so different for her.

“I think I’m the first girl to go to a big university, even in my extended family,” she said. “I’m the first girl to venture out, and not stay at home … I’m the first one to travel extensively.”

Danielle can be reached at [email protected]