Contributed by: Rithi Mulgaonker, Youth Advisory Board member and former Pathfinder participant
In early May 2018, we held a kick-off event for the Pathfinder Giving Circle, which funds scholarships for girls attending the Pathfinder program. Pathfinder helps girls navigate the road to college, career, and independence, and includes a six-day summit in June as well as monthly workshops year-long. A $500 gift provides one girl access to the Summit or to attend the monthly workshops, and a $1,000 gift provides one girl with access to both the Summit and the monthly workshops. If you’re interested in joining the Pathfinder Giving Circle, your membership fee of $500 will make the Pathfinder Program accessible to one ambitious girl who cannot afford it, and $1,000 will take her even further. Click here to scholarship a girl today.
Rithi Mulgaonker, who currently serves on GEN’s Youth Advisory Board and participated in the Pathfinder Leadership Summit in June 2016, spoke at the May Pathfinder Giving Circle kick-off about her experience in Pathfinder and we wanted to share her resounding words with our larger community:
Rithi won the ‘Emerging Leader’ award at the Pathfinder Leadership Summit 2016
Good Evening! First off, I want to say a huge thank you for having me here tonight! My name is Rithi Mulgaonker and I am a current freshman at Univerisity of Texas. I attended the Pathfinder Leadership Summit during the summer of 2016 right before my senior year of high school. Within the short span of 1 week I made some of the most incredible and intense friendships with young ladies of all ages from all around Austin.
We bonded as we attempted to master meditation and finding our inner zen. We were inspired and left in awe as we attended a Q&A session with women employees at the headquarters of Austin based company, HomeAway. We screamed with glee whenever we found out what we were eating for lunch each day. We were again left in disbelief as we met and were able to ask personable questions to Austin’s empowered female city council members, like Ora Houston, about their journey in politics. And, finally on our last day after learning how to salsa dance we cried.
My week at Pathfinder was nothing short of transformative. I found some amazing role models in the GENterns that volunteered and spent time with us that week as I asked them numerous questions about college classes, applications and moving away from home. I stepped out of my comfort zone that week whether that ranged from networking with numerous women in the community about their professional experiences or simply just learning how to partner dance. Every woman and speaker I had crossed paths with throughout the camp had inspired me either professionally, personally or intellectually. However, my path finding experience didn’t stop at the end of the week.
Following summer, each month GEN would host an event that built upon the skills we gained at camp. These monthly events ranged from interacting with female lawyers at a local firm or even trekking to Houston to lead a workshop at the We Are Girls-Houston conference for middle school students. Following Pathfinder, I fell in love with GEN, its mission and, well, the people that run it, so me and some of my other Pathfinder friends decided to apply to the Youth Advisory Board (YAB). Because of YAB, for the past two years I was fortunate enough to help run and organize Girl Advocacy Day.
Pathfinder helped unlock numerous opportunities and relationships that have impacted my life in more ways you can imagine. Since my time at Pathfinder I have recommended the camp to 4 other girls many of whom attended this past summer. I am so incredibly grateful for that. I and many other girls would not have had this amazing opportunity had I not received a financial scholarship through GEN. So, finally, I would like to thank people like you for making opportunities, like Pathfinder, a reality for girls like me. Thank you for being with us tonight!