To Higher Education... And Beyond!
The Women LEAD scholarship program is something close to my heart. Serving as a Junior League member on the Women LEAD project committee this year, I had the opportunity to work closely on this transformational program. Through the year, I gained admiration for the enthusiasm and passion demonstrated by students who have overcome unspeakable adversity, as they shared their dreams of attending colleges like Texas A&M, UNT and my alma-mater, UT Austin. The girls were giddy as they shared what careers they wanted to pursue, from medicine and engineering to law and more.
If you’re unfamiliar with the program, let me provide some background. The Mary Kay Women L.E.A.D (Learn Excel Achieve Dream) scholarship program was created in partnership with the Junior League of Dallas as a way to support young women leaders in the community. As the lead sponsor, Mary Kay contributed $25,000 in college scholarships and, with an extra gift from the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, we were able to increase the funds by $15,000, awarding a total of $40,000 to three deserving young women. Working with three participating DISD schools, Emmitt J. Conrad, Thomas Jefferson and South Oak Cliff, the Junior League of Dallas and Mary Kay welcomed all graduating senior girls with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a passion for giving back to the community, to participate in an essay contest and subsequent 5 minute speech. Eleven finalists were given the opportunity to compete at the 4th annual Women LEAD speech competition on Thursday, March 30th. The grand prize winner was awarded $15,000, second place received $10,000 and three runners up each received $5,000.
As I mentioned, these young women have faced so much adversity in just 17 or 18 short years. Each of our finalists this year came from incredibly difficult circumstances. Some had experienced domestic violence, lost a parent or suffered from a crippling disability. Others had been challenged with caring for young siblings or a sick family member and several were refugees who emigrated from other countries. Despite numerous hardships faced by each, their perseverance, tenacity and optimism were astounding. Each young woman had overcome many barriers and was determined not only to better their own lives through education, but to lift up other women in their communities as well.
As a Mary Kay employee and incoming Women LEAD project chair for 2017-2018, I am so proud to work for a company that invests in future women leaders. These young women will be the change agents in the Dallas community, instilling hope and positivity in whatever careers they pursue and serving as role models for others. To learn more about the program, please visit www.jld.net/community/women-lead/ or feel free to reach out to me if you have interest in attending next year’s speech competition.