Meet the GENterns of Fall 2017!

School is back in session and fall is just around the corner and that means… GEN has new interns to welcome! With the annual We Are Girls conference coming up in November, these amazing young women will be working hard to make everything run smoothly here at GEN. That means helping with social media marketing, fundraising, direct service, and so much more. These wonderful young ladies each bring a different passion and perspective to GEN and we’re so excited to see what they accomplish here. Say hello to Molly von Berg, Tori Volanski, Jenna Bock, Alyssa Barbee, Mariel Gibson, Nicole Wilson, and Margaux Bartzen as they tell us a little about themselves.


Molly von Berg, Community Relations Intern


My name is Molly von Berg; I am a senior at St. Edward’s University majoring in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication. I am a huge fan of girl power and love working with other strong and creative gal pals at GEN. I am looking forward to working with more amazing young women and helping them to realize how unstoppable they are!


What is your favorite service that GEN provides?

My favorite service that GEN provides is the We Are Girls conference. Being able to help plan such a hoppin’ and powerful event is so exciting, and I cannot wait to get together with so many young girls in Austin for an awesome day of empowerment and fun.


What advice would you give to your grade school self?

I think my grade school self was pretty cool. I would however, give my middle school self some advice to not give up being my grade school self, to continue to focus on the things that I love despite what it seems like other people want from me or want me to do. I think that if we all just keep doing the things that bring us joy without worrying about what other people think, we are capable of being our best selves.


If you could take a road trip with one GENcredible person (past or present) who stands for gender justice & female empowerment, who would it be?

My mom, she is a super strong Woman and just a lot of fun. We would definitely bicker on said road trip but spending time with her and experiencing her outlook on life is pretty GENcredible. She probably does not know she stands for gender justice and female empowerment but she is a self-empowered and sufficient woman who does exactly what she wants and brightens the lives of so many people.


Tori Volanski, Direct Service Intern


My name is Tori Volanski and I’m a fourth year social work major at The University of Texas at Austin. I plan to pursue a Masters of Science in Social Work after graduating this December. In my free time I enjoy hiking around Austin and traveling.


If you could describe GEN in one phrase, what would it be? Please provide a brief explanation of your answer.

“Holistically Empowering”. Not only does GEN look to empower the girls during their experience but GEN also wants to provide the girls with skills they can take out of group and into the world ahead of them. GEN does a phenomenal job of making everyone feel at home and appreciated. This holistic approach really radiates throughout the office and in turn influences the girls as well.


What do you think is the biggest challenge that girls are facing today?

I think the biggest challenge facing girls today is body image. It’s really hard when most women represented in the media are photo shopped and upheld to unrealistic expectations. If you pick up a magazine in the checkout at the grocery store chances are that it talks about cellulite or a new exercise routine. Then young girls attend school and are told what they can and cannot wear based on their bodies. All of these pressures create an environment for serious self-doubt to grow.


What impact would you like to have at GEN?

I hope during my time at GEN I get to work with some really amazing girls and hopefully leave them feeling empowered. I also want to help girls build skills that will allow them to conquer their fears and attain their goals now and in the future.


Jenna Bock, Direct Service Intern


 My name is Jenna Bock and I am a graduate student at UT Austin, working towards my Masters of Science in Social Work. I grew up in Maryland and lived in upstate New York for five years while earning my undergraduate degree in Music Education. I am passionate about yoga, singing and sisterhood, and I am so excited to be a part of the GEN team!


What impact do you hope GEN has on the up & coming generation of girls?

Throughout our lives we are surrounded by and fed a plethora of gender-based expectations of how we are supposed to behave, think, and live our lives. These expectations can be challenging at any age, but particularly during childhood and adolescence. I think that programs like GEN are incredibly important to help girls understand and overcome these expectations. My hope is that GEN shows girls of the up & coming generation that the expectations surrounding, and often confining, them don’t have power over them. I hope that GEN helps girls harness their power and understand that there is no “right” way to be a girl.


When were you first made aware of your gender?

I can say with certainty that I was first made aware of gender as a young child. I grew up being told that there were certain ways I was supposed to look and behave in order to be a “lady.”


Who is the most GENspiring role model in your life and why?

The most GENspiring role model in my life is my smart and empathetic best friend, Caroline. Since eighth grade, she has been supporting, encouraging, and inspiring me. Caroline is always striving to be the most loving, helpful and self-aware person she can, and she consistently inspires me in the process.


Alyssa Barbee, Project Management Intern 


Growing up in Illinois, I was surrounded by mounds of snow and Culver’s cheese curds, but now I stay (extremely) warm in Austin, Texas—with a strict diet of Torchy’s tacos. Currently, I am a sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin majoring in Advertising with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. My goal in life is to change the objectification and limited representation of women in the media, and create inclusive advertisements that empower women to embrace their natural bodies, endless passions, and intersecting identities.


Why did you choose to intern at GEN? 

My advisor sent me an email about an opportunity to intern at GEN, and I immediately knew I HAD to apply. GEN’s core beliefs and mission fit mine like a glove– truly a match made in heaven! Over the summer, I was a Pathfinder Intern, where I officially fell in love with GEN. I was blown away by how empowered the girls already were and humbled by the generosity and dedication of the staff. I was absolutely thrilled when I was offered the Project Management internship for the fall semester. I am overjoyed to grow my relationship with everyone at GEN and continue to pave the way for the next generation of girls!


What experiences from your own girlhood do you hope will help you during your time here at GEN?

As a young girl, I was teased because I didn’t have the “ideal body type” or I didn’t always think and act “like a girl.” It took a long time for me to love my body and embrace my quirky personality. I want girls to know from a young age that there is absolutely no wrong way to be a girl and that you never have to apologize for who you are. Everyone is so wonderfully unique and has so much to bring to the table. Beauty standards and gender roles should never hold us back, and I hope to inspire girls to shoot for the stars and do whatever makes them feel empowered, regardless of what society tells them.


Who is the most GENspiring female role model in your life and why? 

After going through very unhealthy friendships, I was blessed with some amazing gal pals. They have shown me love at the lowest points in my life, taught me that emotions are not a sign of weakness, encouraged me in everything I did, and so much more. Each of my girlfriends has risen above adversities in life, bringing so many different yet valid outlooks. I am forever grateful to have such a strong community of inspirational women and would not be where I am today without them building me back up. I want to help girls learn about healthy relationships (and teach them to not settle for anything less) and also serve as that empowering female role model in other girls’ lives. After all, the sisterhood and community between women is one of my favorite parts of being a girl!


Mariel Gibson, Direct Service Intern


My name is Mariel Gibson and I am a senior at Texas State University majoring in Applied Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Originally from Beaumont, Texas, I moved to San Marcos, Texas to further my education in hopes of pursuing a career in the non-profit field. I am exceptionally passionate about helping others in any way that I can, especially encouraging young girls to grow into strong women. I am thrilled to be interning for GEN!


Why did you choose to intern for GEN?

After reading GEN’s mission statement, I knew this organization was something I needed to be a part of. Growing up around strong women like my mother, grandmother, and aunt I always had women to look up to and they inspired me to always be my best self. Growing up I realized not many girls have this type of supportive environment and I feel it is my responsibility to give back. Young girls in today’s society need support and seeing how that encouragement can impact their lives is something I feel passionate about.


What girls’ issue are you most passionate about and why?

An issue I am most passionate about is the effect social media has on girls. As impactful as social media is, I feel it is important to teach girls that the image social media paints is not who they have to become.


How do you think your generation of girls can help the up-and-coming generation that GEN serves?

My generation of young women can help the future generation of girls by being a source of support, reassurance, and positive role models. I can remember being a young girl and always looking up to the high school girls, wishing I could be just like them. Having a positive and encouraging role model can help girls build confidence and feel they have a voice to be heard. Young women today can make a huge impact on the lives of young girls by giving them the ignition they need to flourish into strong women.



Nicole Wilson, Development Intern


My name is Nicole Wilson, I am 21 years old, and I’m a senior studying Business at Southwestern University with a minor in Environmental Studies. I play tennis for my university and am also very involved with Young Life on campus. I have always been passionate about helping people, especially young girls, and I’m very excited to learn how to do that more with GEN this fall!


What are your goals here at GEN?

My goals at GEN are to learn as much as possible about the fundraising and donor relations aspect of a non-profit. They are both absolutely vital to keeping the doors of a non-profit open! I am also looking forward to gaining as much experience as possible.


What experiences from your own girlhood do you hope will help you during your time here at GEN? 

I grew up in a nontraditional household and went through a lot of struggles when I was growing up that are not unfamiliar to a lot of the girls we serve. My childhood experiences are the main reason why I am so inspired by what GEN does and why I will work so hard to do everything I can to help these girls avoid going through the same struggles that I did.


If you had the chance to work on a girls project abroad, where would you want to go and why?  

If I could go abroad and work on a girls project I would definitely go to Nicaragua. I have traveled there before on mission and would love to go back and do more! So many of their people don’t have the basic living necessities like clean water and living spaces, let alone proper education for their young girls, and I would really like to be a part of that change.



Margaux Bartzen, Communications Intern


My name is Margaux Bartzen and I am a junior at the University of Texas at Austin studying International Relations & Russian. I am a world traveler and writer at heart- two hobbies that go together wonderfully. I am especially passionate about women & girls advancement and hope to incorporate that into my future career in the non-profit or NGO world. GEN is the perfect place for me because its mission is something that I want to spend my life furthering everywhere I go, whether that is here in Texas or across the globe in Russia!


What do you hope to learn during your time here at GEN?

Professionally, I hope to learn how a non-profit works. Everything from proposal writing to social media marketing to event planning interests me so I am thankful that I can explore all of these during my internship at GEN. I want to learn how to fulfill a mission, in every sense of the word, meaning how do we at GEN accomplish our goals effectively and efficiently in a way that makes the biggest impact. And more personally, I’m hoping to further my writing and leadership skills.


If you could take a road trip with one GENcredible person (past or present) who stands for gender justice & female empowerment, who would it be?

Can I fill a van full? There are so many incredible people to choose from. I might have to say Emma Watson. The HeforShe campaign that she launched with the United Nations is such an inspiring and vital global movement for gender equality. Since falling in love with her character Hermione in Harry Potter I’ve always felt we would be best friends so I think she’d be an excellent road-trip buddy! But ideally, I’d get together a whole crew with everyone from Jane Austen to Amy Poehler to Malala Yousafzai and it would be epic.


What positive changes do you hope to see in the up & coming generation of girls?

I think this generation of girls is growing up with so much more resources than mine did. The phrases “Girl Power” and “Girls Empowerment” and “Girlhood” weren’t even a thing until relatively recently and that seems trivial but it’s so significant. So I think that is bringing up these girls with high expectations of gender equality and that is just what the world needs: girls and women who do not doubt their worth. I hope they love themselves. I hope they don’t hold themselves to the unrealistic standards that society has set up for us and I hope they destroy those standards all together. I hope they unapologetically take up space wherever they want to be. And lastly, I hope they help my generation in breaking every remaining glass ceiling there is. I have no doubt they will brighten our world.

Felicia Gonzalez