GEN in Houston: A Message for Girls from Rania Mankarious
Contributed by: Rania Mankarious, We Are Girls Houston Host Committee Member
I was driving down the road. The song coming out of my back row was one I used to sing when I was in school. This time, the voices rising and falling were that of my three girls. As I glanced back at them through my rear view mirror, I felt an overwhelming sense of love and protectiveness. I also began to worry.
Who will my little girls grow up to be? Will they be confident in who they are? Will they be bullied? Will they be bullies? Will they stand up for what they believe in? Will they stand up for others?
It’s strange what something so small can trigger in your head but that said, it doesn’t take much for a mom to worry about the kids she loves so much.
That made me think of all the young girls out there and the community that loves them. And that made me think of each of you.
Here you are, a group of young girls, filled with potential. All unique. All wonderful. Each so special. I can say with confidence that someone in your life is asking the very same questions that popped into my head about my girls, about each of you. Actually, I’m asking them about each of you. The difference is, unlike my kids, you lovely ladies are at the point where some of those questions can be answered. So, tell me, or rather, think about it, do you have an idea of who you want to be? (Remember, it doesn’t matter where you are from or what you look like, there is no limit to your potential and the opportunities out there for each of you!) Are you confident in who YOU are? (Please say YES…!) Have you been bullied? (I hope not but if you have, are you seeking help?) Are you a bully? (Please say NO…!) Will you stand up for yourself and others? (That takes a strong person but each of us has this strength within us.)
You see, there are defining moments in all our lives and then there are defining – what I call – chunks of time. You are going through those chunks, a precious period where so much of who you are is being challenged, fine-tuned, determined and formed. Are you aware of that? Will you take the time to become aware and will you take the time to make the right choices? Only you can answer that question.
Either way, here is my wish and hope for each of you: that you know you are loved. That you know you are unique. That you understand that your uniqueness is what makes you special, brilliant and beautiful. That you are not defined solely by the friends you keep or the crushes you have but by your actions and inactions at critical moments in life. That your voice is the most precious voice of all and should never be silenced. That you have a network of mothers, fathers, older sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers and coaches – most of whom you do not know – but who “know” you, who want you to succeed and who are willing to come together time and time again to give you the tools to do so.
I am so proud of your generation of young ladies and I trust that you will accept that you are loved and that you are wonderful and that you will turn your talents into good. Good for you and good for the community. Keep going! Me, and hundreds of others, have your back!
Rania Mankarious, a Boston native, was chosen to head Houston’s leading public safety non-profit organization, Crime Stoppers, in March of 2013. Rania received a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence completed at the University of Houston Law Center. She boasts an extensive resume with experience consulting for national companies, non-profit organizations and private public relations clients alike. Citing a personal mission to serve families and engage the public to better society, Rania began consulting with Crime Stoppers in 2006.
In her four years at the helm and through working with her incredible team, Rania’s legacy has been well established. Described by some as “Crime Stoppers on steroids,” her footprint has elevated the organization to new heights. In addition to expanding the reach of the Safe School Program, the topics covered by the Safe Community Program, the launch of Parents Against Crime and the critically important Fallen Hero Program, Rania is most proud to have built the first-ever Crime Stoppers headquarters, anywhere in the world, right here in Midtown. The Dave Ward Building, Crime Stoppers of Houston was officially opened January 2017 and is the first public safety, crime prevention facility of its kind – bringing together civilians and law enforcement as well as students and community members from every corner of our great city. Additionally on this city block will be the first Harris County Sheriff’s Office Memorial Garden, a beautiful tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. In a short time, the ambitious mother of three has lifted a Houston institution to new heights.