GEN Girl of the Month: Melanie Louch
Contributed by Kate Heetland
This month, we would like to highlight GEN girl Melanie Louch!
Melanie has participated in a wealth of our programs, starting with clubGEN in 6th grade, Pathfinder, and volunteered at last month’s Calm, Cool, and Creative campGEN! She stands out as a leader and has great insight on girlhood. Read our interview below:
Kate: What grades did you do club?
Melanie: My school only had it my 6th grade year. They stopped doing it, but some of the club members got together every Friday to have breakfast in our sponsor’s office.
K: What has been the best part of your experience with the GEN programs?
M: For me, the best part would probably be getting to interact with other girls that are like me and in the same boat. At clubGEN it was mostly 6th or 7th graders that were new to middle school, trying to figure out the whole thing. It was nice to have this group that all knew how I was feeling like “Oh yeah, I lost my way to 3rd period class too, it’s all good”
At Pathfinder, obviously, it’s a leadership thing so the girls there are super ambitious and they’re amazing, so it was awesome to get to talk with all of them.
K: What are some of the topics you’ve enjoyed either working on or discussing?
M: At Pathfinder, one of the presentations that I really liked was ‘regaining your time’. It was all about time management, attention management I think they called it. That’s a topic I’m still thinking about today and I actually, on my own blog, just wrote a post about it – I referenced that session at Pathfinder.
K: What’s your blog?
M: It’s called ‘the little rebel’ I write about success, lifestyle, things like that.
K: How do you think GEN helps girls?
M: One of the things I really like about GEN is that you guys do really well with older girls. Workshops, programs, and things like that that are applicable for us. We had one session at Pathfinder called ‘conflict resolution across cultures’. I think what girls would like about GEN is that you discuss things that maybe other youth programs wouldn’t get into. You help with ‘adult skills’.
K: What would you say to girls that are unsure about joining the GEN program?
M: Do it. It’s awesome. I was hesitant at first about doing club, but it ended up being one of the most awesome things that year. And I loved Pathfinder years later. We have a Pathfinder group chat – one of our pathfinder people actually has a birthday today so we all wished her a happy birthday this morning. So do it! You’ll make friends and learn cool things.
K: Do you remember who your program coordinator was when you were in 6th grade?
M: Ally Miller was our GEN person…I saw her at Pathfinder too and I was like ‘yes! It’s coming full circle!” We also had a high school girl help with GEN and her name was Kara.
K: What was it like working with the program coordinator? What do you think they brought to the table?
M: In clubGEN, one thing Ally was really good at was getting all of us to take a topic and have a discussion about it. If we did body image one day she would say ‘what do you think about this, what are your thoughts?” That was really cool. And I remember at Pathfinder, one of the interns Hannah, I thought she was one of the coolest people ever. I was like ‘it’s so cool you’re doing this big pageant and she plays the same instrument I do – we both play the cello’. I remember I really, really liked Hannah.
K: Have you ever struggled with something that being a part of GEN really helped you work through?
M: Yeah, so I hate making eye contact. I’ve never liked making eye contact with people. But at Pathfinder that was the number 1 thing that Caroline wanted us to take away from it. “Make eye contact with people! Show them that you’re interested in what they’re saying!” That’s one thing. I probably make more eye contact now than I did before Pathfinder.
K: What else have you really enjoyed from the GEN program?
M: Meeting new people, making new friends. I also did three days of campGEN. So the days I was at campGEN, I got to talk with some of the younger girls and I was super nervous about it because I was like “they look up to me”! But it ended up being a lot of fun! I got to interact with some of them and learn what was going on in the life of a 10 year old. I thought it was really cool. One of them gave me a worry doll on Thursday and I still have it on my desk.
K: How has GEN changed you or affected your life overall?
M: I’m a better leader because of GEN. I’ve taken bits and pieces of what I learned at Pathfinder and at clubGEN and that’s made me a better leader and better at interacting with others and taking charge of a situation.
K: What’s your overall takeaway from being a part of GEN?
M: One thing I’ve taken away from GEN is to be assertive. To be polite about it, but able to say “no, my ideas are valid, this is why you should listen to me”. That’s something that’s been really, really good.