Zaniya Lewis: YesSheCanCampaign
Could you explain a bit about YesSheCanCampaign's mission, what it does, and the importance of education?
The YesSheCanCampaign is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is run by high school and college students from across the country. Their mission is to inspire, empower and share the stories of girls and young women who are overcoming adversity while striving to complete their education. They provide educational resources to girls and young women from across the country. YesSheCanCampaign five pillars are education, service, opportunity, advocacy and empowerment. They know through their five pillars girls and young women will continue to climb despite the obstacles. They have provide girls and young women with the resources to succeed. Education is important to their organization because education is a tool that cannot be taken away from you after you get that diploma. Education is the key to opportunity in this world. It is important that every girl and young women in this world receive a quality education so that they can achieve their goals and dreams.
Why did you start the YesSheCanCampaign?
Zaniya was born premature and had about a 75% chance of dying. Growing up, her mom was unemployed for some part of her life and she was also a military kid. As she entered middle school, she was bullied and during her senior year while applying for colleges, it was hard for her to attend the colleges that she wanted to go to. On top of that, she have experienced racial discrimination a countless amount of times. Going through these different experiences made her feel lonely, made her think she wasn’t good enough. She also had many success, In 2015, she was chosen 1 out of 3 student athletes in the United States to travel with the NBPA and NBA on an amazing community service trip to South Africa. In 2016, she was a co-winner of Former First Lady Michelle Obama and Seventeen Better Make Room National Contest. She interviewed Mrs.Obama and appeared on the cover of the May 2016 issue of Seventeen.
In December of 2016, YesSheCanCampaign started as an instagram that shared the stories of women who were overcoming adversity while striving to complete their education. Since then, we have expanded to 11 programs, we have two college chapters that started this fall and we have reached over 1,000 + students through our programming and social media content. I have also been given so many incredible opportunities and I wanted to keep the door open and give others the same opportunities I was granted.
What inspires you about or in your organization?
What inspires Zaniya about her organization is that it is run by high school and college students from across the country who all have a similar goal that entails continuing their education and changing the world. She is also inspired by how all the organization members because they continue to climb in their lives despite the obstacles. At the YesSheCanCampaign our motto is keep climbing because we believe that although the wall stands for so many obstacles in life the climb is what they focus on. Every girl and young woman apart of the YesSheCanCampaign inspires her!
What are some highlights of YesSheCanCampaign that your organization finds of particular importance?
YesSheCanCampaign loves every program about their organization because they created the YesSheCanCampaign base on girls and young women who have shared the stories with them. One of their favorite events at the YesSheCanCampaign is their On the Road Tour they travel to schools and organizations and facilitate workshops and panel discussions on topics such as college prep, social media, STEAM, community service/activism, finding your passion, women empowerment and more. This program is so needed because girls and young women can relate to us and we can relate to them.
Another event we have is our Sparkle Summit. The Sparkle Summit is a day of inspiration for youth. The summit empowers youth to use their passions to make a difference and motivate them to continue their education. Our summit is not just a day but it is a movement. The organization is run by high school and college students who all have overcome adversity. We are empowering the next generation to use their stories to make a difference. This summit truly gives them the tools and resources to change the world.
How does the YesSheCanCampaign use your platform for scholarship opportunities for girls?
The YesSheCanCampaign Inspire blogs provides all of their members the opportunity to write about topics that they are passionate about. YesSheCanCampaign name it the Inspire Blog because they know that their members writing will inspire anyone who may come across their blog. YesSheCanCampaign’s primary goal is to ensure every girl and young women complete their education. They know how expensive college tuition is for girls and young women. Their organization sends out a bi-weekly opportunity list that is filled with different opportunities such as scholarships, internships, contests and jobs. Their organization also provides office hours for our members who may need additional help with academics, college applications , essays, scholarships, resumes and more. YesSheCanCampaign also have a free scholarship course that will close on December 16, 2018. The scholarship course helps students apply to scholarships effectively.
What are the future goals of YesSheCanCampaign?
The YesSheCanCampaign future goals, as of now, is to continue recruiting as many members because the YesSheCanCampaign national team members know that so many girls and young women can take advantage of our resources and opportunities. The YesSheCanCampaign will be continuing to fundraise since they are a 501(c)(3) youth-led organization and they do not have an office they run their organization from their homes and college dorms. YesSheCanCampaign also want to meet the rest of their national team who live in different states, they have yet to meet everyone since they cannot afford to travel across the country. The YesSheCanCampaign primary goal is to keep inspiring and empowering girls to take advantage of their opportunities, motivate them to continue their education and to keep climbing.
What advice do you have for women working to overcome obstacles, especially given recent political events?
The advice Zaniya would give to girls and young women who are working to overcome obstacles is to never give up. If someone tells you no, thank them and then walk around and knock on the other door. If you keep knocking eventually one will open. Do not use your obstacles as an excuse but use them to motivate and ignite you to go after your goals and dreams. Keep Climbing!