GENterns of Austin

Every semester, the Girls Empowerment Network recruits 4-6 interns who come to the office and provide support in a variety of ways. Each intern brings their unique perspective into the office. Meet Shelby, Elaina, Kristen, Mia, and Savannah, our Spring 2016 GENterns.




“My name is Shelby Guel. I am the Community Relations intern and a student at the University of Texas at Austin. I wanted to volunteer with GEN to provide support to a nonprofit that is passionate about girl empowerment. Growing up I noticed others and have personally struggled with self-acceptance. Though I had a great support system of friends and family, I always felt like there was more I could be and more I could be doing. GEN provides me with a place to live out the passion to teach young girls and their families about better ways to communicate and teach self-acceptance and self-love. I think the most pressing issue girls face is a lack of self-love. Society, the media, our peer groups, and our family all have an idea of who we should be and how we should behave. Sometimes these groups agree, but most of the time there is a conflict of idea. With so many different groups telling us who we should be, it is often challenging to simply love who we are and not just love the parts of us that meets the expectations of who others think we should be. The GEN value that relates the most to my life experiences is being unbiased. Though I have only been with GEN for a few weeks, each time I come it reminds me that if I want to talk the talk I have to walk the walk. Though I wholeheartedly support the mission of GEN and all of its values, I must remain self-aware of the challenges I continue to face. As a role model, I should embody our values and lean in for support in areas that I need it.”



“My name is Kristen Ranus, I’m the Direct Service intern. I started the last week of January, and I’m a student at St. Edward’s. I didn’t know that GEN existed until this past winter, but it’s an organization that will continue to be relevant as long as a harmful difference exists between how we treat males and females. If we are looking for girls to grow into strong and capable women, we ought to support that growth, because they don’t always feel supported by the larger society. My favorite GEN value is self-knowledge, because I feel it is vital that girls learn that they can make their own decisions about what is best for them. That knowledge enables all of us to defy the invisible standards that often limit us. There are so many awesome female leaders in the public eye nowadays, but I am most inspired by my mom, who plays multiple roles every day. She embodies a strong independence but also reliance on others, and she is both fierce and gentle. Most importantly, she supports and empowers those around her.”




“My name is Mia Uhunmwuangho and I’m the Communications intern here at GEN. I go to UT and I’m a journalism major. I started interning at GEN in February and I picked GEN because I wanted a way to make a difference in the lives of girls. I think the most pressing issue facing girls is pressure. The pressure to be perfect, the pressure to fit into some mold or someone else’s idea of what means to be a girl. That’s why my favorite GEN value is self-knowledge. I think it’s important we we empower and educate girls so they can find themselves and embrace who they are. A female leader that I really look up to is Chimamanda Adichie. She’s a Nigerian author, women’s rights advocate, and she part of her speech on women’s rights was featured on Beyonce’s “Flawless” song. I admire her because she write such strong female characters who on go on complex journeys to find themselves. I also like the fact that a lot of her characters are NIgerian. It’s like I’m seeing a little piece of myself whenever I read her work.”




“My name is Savannah Yurick. I’m the Special Events intern this semester. I was the Project Management intern last semester. I started interning at the very end of August last year and I go to the University of Texas. My favorite thing about GEN is the community that it creates. In the office and outside with the girls, I just think it just creates this awesome network of people who care so much about girls and their issues. It feels like a little family. My favorite memory with GEN was probably my first We Are Girls Conference. I got to go to the Houston conference and it was the most amazing experience ever because I got to meet all of the people outside of the GEN office that are just volunteering and care about girls. Seeing their passion for them and the impact that it made was really awesome. My favorite GEN value is probably confidence. That’s one thing that we really focus on, confidence and self-care. I’ve never worked in an office that cares so much about not just who they’re working for, but who’s working for them. It empowers you to be confident in yourself and to take care of yourself.”




“My name is Elaina Mataya and I’m the Fundraising intern. I go to UT and I’m a social work major. I interned last semester with direct service. I’m leading a group this semester so I’m also doing some program stuff. I definitely look up to Beyonce. A lot of my intersectional feminism connects with a lot of music she’s done and her message as a businesswoman and philanthropist. My favorite GEN value is inclusiveness. Inclusiveness is huge for me because whenever I have my groups, I want the girls to feel like they really belong and that they all have a voice that definitely needs to be heard. My best memories with GEN is looking back on the first day with my groups and the last day, seeing the girls’ journeys and getting to know them. Every single group opens up a little more, and seeing their vulnerability is my favorite part. I definitely feel the most confident when my self-compassion is high, and I just feeling like all my imperfections are Beyonce flawless.”

Vanessa Wright