Meet the GENterns of Summer 2017!

Contributed by: Hayley Sureck


What time is it? It’s summertime and time for new GENterns! For the summer we have some amazing advocates helping out with our social media, camps, conference, and much more. Each of these interns have a great attitude and are always excited to come into work. Are you ready to meet these awesome and fun loving girls? You better be because Brighton Timco, Gracie West, Latasha Carter, Amanda Sass, Saba Hajiebrahimi, Kendall Krumme, Jennifer Murphy, and Hayley Sureck are some pretty GENcredible people.


Pathfinder, Direct Service, and Project Management Intern – Brighton Timco


My name is Brighton Timco and I am a senior at the Florida State University majoring in Information, Communication, and Technology with a double minor in English and Entrepreneurship. I am extremely passionate about bettering the day to day lives of young women as they face constant struggles and difficulties. I am beyond blessed to be spending my summer at GEN empowering girls of all ages!


What are you goals at GEN?
My goals at GEN are to hopefully inspire a handful of girls that I get the privilege of leading and interacting with this summer at both Pathfinder and the various camps. I would also like to learn about how a nonprofit functions and what goes into the creation of all of the conferences and programs that GEN puts on.


What advice would you give to your grade school self?
To my grade school self I would say to try to care as little as possible about what other kids think or say about you. Being unique is actually cool and even if you dress differently than other kids, or act differently, you should embrace those qualities because being the same as everyone else is boring. It truly will not matter as you grow up and become an adult what any of those people think. Always put yourself first and embrace whoever it is that you are.


What do you think is the biggest challenge that girls are facing today?
I think the biggest challenge girls are facing today is loving and accepting their bodies due to the rise in social media popularity. I think girls constantly struggle with feeling like they aren’t “perfect” because they see “perfect” bodies on social media and everywhere they look online and are constantly comparing themselves. Self love is getting harder and harder for girls to come by.


Pathfinder and Direct Service Intern – Gracie West


My name is Gracie and I am from Brenham, Texas. I’m finishing my masters at Texas State University in Family and Child Studies. Before this, I got my bachelors degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and majored in Early Childhood Education. I have always loved working with kids of all ages, and can’t wait to spend more time with the girls at GEN this summer!


Why did you choose to Intern here?
I had a friend who also had an amazing experience interning at GEN. Through her stories I learned about what GEN does for the girls of Texas and I was instantly on board! I loved GEN’s mission and all programs that the organization has to offer.


What impact would you like to make at GEN?
I would love to be a mentor by listening first, then encouraging the girls to be confident by believing in themselves. I want each and everyone of them to see the potential they have to succeed. We are all so special!


What is your favorite service that GEN provides?
So far, I’ve been a part of the Pathfinder program and I was completely blown away. I would have loved to have a program like this when I was in high school. I loved watching the girls grow socially and emotionally. It warmed my heart seeing the girls make friends and network with successful working women in the community. Overall, it was such a spectacular week!


Direct Service and Special Projects Intern – Latasha Carter


What are your goals at GEN?
My goal at GEN is to learn how to successfully develop life changing, empowering leadership programs for girls and women. As an intern with GEN, I have been afforded the unique opportunity to work closely with dynamic leaders who also share my passion for empowering, motivating, and equipping girls to reach their full potential.


Why did you choose to intern here?
Approximately five years ago I heard about GEN and fell in love with their mission to support and guide girls to make wise choices as they navigate the unique pressures of girlhood. As a former girls athletic coach, I was very familiar with the issues that girls faced. As a result, I was always seeking ways to empower and ignite the greatness that resided in each of my athletes. In desperation, I researched organizations that offered programs and conferences that empower girls and discovered the We Are Girls Conferences. The girls and I attended the conference and it was beyond anything we imagined it would be. The conference ignited a fire in all of us. After witnessing that positive impact the conference had on my athletes, I became an advocate for the GEN organization.


In the future I want to build programs that empower and develop girls to be dynamic leaders in their communities; therefore, I couldn’t think of a better organization to learn from then the Girls Empowerment Network.


What advice would you give your grade school self?
The advice I would give to my grade school self would be based on lessons I learned over time. “You are uniquely and wonderfully made by the God, therefore you should never try to be anyone but your beautiful and gifted self. You can do anything that you put your mind to! Unfortunately, you are going to cross paths with people who will try to discourage you from being exactly who God created you to be. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE POWER TO DO THAT! You cannot control others behavior and opinions of you but you have full control of how you allow them to affect you. Expect life to have some storms and rainbows, embrace and learn from them both. Set your goals high and always remember that the key to reaching your full potential is first trusting and having faith in God, set your goals high, stay focus on what is important, don’t be afraid of work hard, look for opportunities to be a blessing to others and never stop believing in yourself. ”


Direct Service Intern – Amanda Sass


I’m from Magnolia, Texas, but I currently live in Austin and attend the University of Texas. I’m majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies.


What do you think is the biggest challenge that girls are facing today?
I think a huge problem that girls face today is the fact that many of the problems they do have are trivialized. The emotions that girls feel and need to process are cast away as “hormones” and “overreactions” when that simply isn’t the case. There are very few places that girls feel that they can share what they’re going through without being judged or misunderstood. That makes it difficult for them to deal with other problems they have, such as mental health issues, abusive situations, or low self-esteem. In short, the trivialization of girl’s issues makes all of those problems become bigger and harder to deal with.


What impact would you like to make at GEN?
I hope to leave a little bit of my voice at GEN. I very strongly support GEN’s mission and all that they do, and I want to add my own skills to the mix in any way that I can. Whether it be by adding something I find to be important to girls to the curriculum, writing a blog post about my experiences so others can read about them, or sharing my silliness at camp, I just want to be myself and use my strengths to make GEN even better and more awesome than it already is.


What do you hope to leave this internship with?
As a direct service intern, I hope to leave my internship at GEN with some experience in really helping girls. I want to learn how to be a good listener and a compassionate mentor to all the girls that I meet. I also hope to leave this internship with my current goals fulfilled and some new, exciting goals for my future!


Direct Service and Fundraising Intern – Saba Hajiebrahimi


I am an Austinite at heart, born and raised in Austin, Texas. I went to St. Stephens for middle/high school and after 18 years of living here I decided to leave for college and get some new experience. I decided to go to Chapman University this past year. I just finished my first year out in California and am studying Business and Psychology.


Why did you choose to intern at GEN?
I grew up around strong women. My mom, sister and everyone else around me constantly told me the sky was the limit. I credit that environment for making me who I am today. However, even with the amazing support system that I had, being a young girl in our society still had its challenges. For a while I really struggled with self image and self-esteem, and it became something I really had to work on as I grew up. As I became a young adult, and started finding confidence and comfort in who I was, I became more passionate about helping others do the same. Learning to find that self-love and compassion was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Along the way I started to realize how common these issues were. Ever since I was young I’ve had this ‘itch’ to work at a non-profit, especially with young girls, and when I found out about GEN it all just clicked. I remember running to my friend and showing them GEN’s website and freaking out! They looked at me and went “oh my gosh this is exactly what you are always talking about.” Finding out that a non-profit that does what GEN does even existed ignited this fuse within me. I think GEN brings important issues to the surface that aren’t validated very often in our society. The idea of being a part of that movement was what made me want to be a part of GEN. We are all radiant, intelligent, and powerful girls, and if I can help GEN simply teach one girl that lesson this summer, I’ve done my job.


What do you hope to leave this internship with?
I’m not, and have never been, one of those people who has always known what they want to do or be when they grow up. I always say that I definitely do NOT have my life figured out. For me, coming to GEN was a way to gain experience. I thought to myself “What do I love to do?” and followed my gut. At this stage in my life, I think any experience is beneficial to me, especially at such a groundbreaking place like the Girls Empowerment Network. The one thing I really hope to learn is how to teach young girls. For me, the quality time with the girls in our programs is what I look forward to. Those one-on-one conversations and little moments are what I look forward to. All I want to know when I finish my internship with GEN this summer is that I’ve helped at least one more girl find that light within her. That confidence and fight that she has to take on anything life throws at her. Honestly, I have a feeling that these girls will help me just as much as I help them, and that is something I can’t wait for. I know they will motivate and inspire me each and everyday.


If you could describe GEN in one phrase, what would it be? Please provide a brief explanation about your answer.
I would describe GEN as refreshing. For me, being in a work environment like the Girls Empowerment Network is like a breath of fresh air. It’s refreshing to walk into the office and be surrounded by numerous motivated, powerful, and accepting women who all share the same values and purpose. In the times that I have been in the office, not once have I felt judged, or out of place. GEN creates an environment that makes everyone feel at home. They do this at their camps and programs and create a space where a girl can truly find herself. It’s not often that one doesn’t feel judged or invaluable in certain environments, so being at GEN is like a breath of fresh air. When I leave camp, or leave the office, I always have a smile on my face and feel like I have a little something to keep me going.


Fundraising Intern – Kendall Krumme


I was born and raised in Austin, TX. I went to Westwood High School and am now a rising sophomore at Texas Christian University. I am a pre-business major and plan to study Finance or Marketing and am minoring in political science.


Why do you feel passionately about GEN?
I’m passionate about GEN because I believe that girls have such a unique perspective when it comes to solving problems and viewing the world. However, this potential often goes untapped because of daily pressures from society to look or act a certain way. GEN is so important because in today’s society, girls are experiencing a crisis of confidence when, in reality, we all have the potential to be strong, independent, and empowered! I love that GEN teaches girls the skills they need to succeed in whatever they want to do. There are many challenges that girls and women face today and GEN gives girls the tools to face those challenges head on and conquer them.


If you could describe GEN in one phrase, what would it be? Please provide a brief explanation about your answer.
My phrase would be “GEN welcomes and inspires.” First, GEN welcomes everyone and works to be inclusive at all times. GEN is a safe space for all to express what they are feeling. Second, GEN inspires everyone connected to the programs. GEN inspires girls to pursue their dreams. My hope is that after being involved in GEN, girls understand that they are powerful and worthy. Also, GEN inspires me too. I am inspired everyday to work for girls who deserve for their voice to be heard. I am constantly reminded about how awesome it is to be a girl!


What advice would you give your grade school self?
I would tell my grade school self to go after everything! Get involved in any club that you find even remotely interesting. Play sports or join the band, hang out with friends, and don’t be afraid to be passionate about something. Passion is way too often seen as “nerdy” and that is simply not true. I have found that my role models, like Michelle Obama and Emma Watson, all have something in common– passion. So, don’t be afraid to try new things and go after what interests you.


Community Relations Intern – Jennifer Murphy


I was born in Syracuse (upstate New York), but grew my roots in the Lonestar State. I have lived in the Cypress, Tomball, Spring, and Woodlands areas. I am a senior at The University of Texas at Austin, pursuing dual degrees in English and journalism, and recently completed a Certificate in Honors Creative Writing after writing my thesis, an experimental-fiction short story collection.


I enjoy creative research, and journalistic writings, and plan to use these skills GEN.


Why do you feel passionately about GEN?
I believe GEN is an important resource within the Austin community, equipping girls with the tools to navigate the complexities of girlhood. These rite-of-passages that girls experience today often lack the appropriate spaces for addressing them. I want to help provide that space.


In today’s world, many media messages often call for impossible standards of young females. If these standards aren’t met, this can influence self-perception. Because if every girl is unique, how can one adhere to these societal ‘trends’ that don’t naturally fit the individual self-mold of every girl? This prompts me to wonder, what does it mean to be feminine? And how can parents try to grow up a girl?


I love GEN because it sees that being a girl isn’t about checking off certain qualities that align with popular culture. It embraces the girl as her own person, while empowering her with opportunities for personal growth.


If you could describe GEN in one phrase, what would it be? Please provide a brief explanation about your answer.
“Boss ladies inspiring boss girls, boss girls inspiring boss ladies.” In other words: the women working at GEN work to inspire the girls at GEN, but the girls at GEN also inspire the women working at GEN. We are helping and inspiring each other.


What is your favorite service that GEN offers?
CampGEN offers week-long day camps that focus on uplifting girls and helping them find their power. I enjoyed visiting the “Calm, Cool & Creative” camp, where the girls learned about self-care and self-expression.


Pathfinder and Communications Intern – Hayley Sureck


I was born in Dallas, but recently moved to Austin a few years ago. I am currently going into my sophomore year at The University of Texas at Austin. There I am planning on double majoring in Psychology and Advertising.


If you could describe GEN in one phrase, what would it be? Please provide a brief explanation about your answer.
If I described GEN in one phrase it would be “a ray of sunshine”. Every employee and intern that I have had the pleasure of working with has been so enthusiastic and empathetic. Not once have I felt like I was being judged or laughed at. Along with its amazing employees, GEN’s mission is also ‘a ray of sunshine’! What they do to inspire girls of various ages and to instill confidence within them bewilders me.


What advice would you give to your grade school self?
I would tell my grade school self to focus on loving me instead of placing all of my attention on others. I often found myself trying to ignore my insecurities by focusing on how perfect my friends were. I wish I would’ve stopped comparing myself to them, and rather, realized that I am unique. I believe that would’ve helped a lot with learning how to love myself.


What is your favorite service that GEN provides?
My favorite service that GEN provides is definitely the Pathfinder Leadership Conference. The conference was centered around helping high school girls prepare themselves for the real world. It was amazing seeing each girl progress both mentally and socially everyday. I wish that I had access to a program like Pathfinder when I was in high school. It would have prepared me so much for college and beyond.

Felicia Gonzalez